Everyone over 40 should be offered their first Covid-19 vaccine by Easter, with a “bumper boost” to supplies allowing the programme to rapidly expand next week, The Telegraph can reveal.
Stocks are expected to more than double, allowing the NHS to administer up to a million doses a day in coming weeks, government sources said.
It means that all over-50s are expected to receive an invitation for a jab over the next week – around three weeks ahead of the Government’s target.
The Prime Minister had promised that jabs would be offered to all over-50s by April 15, and to everyone over the age of 18 by the end of July.
However, senior government sources said the programme was already far ahead of expectations and about to accelerate dramatically.
As a result, there is growing confidence that all adults over 40 will have been offered a first dose of the vaccine before Easter, which falls on April 4. It will also increase pressure on the Government to speed up the exit from lockdown.
On Friday night, Tory MPs said the progress, combined with continued falls in cases and hospitalisations, meant pubs and restaurants should be allowed to open from Easter. The current plan allows only “al fresco” hospitality to open a week later, with indoor eating and drinking not allowed until May.
The UK’s R number has now dropped to between 0.6 and 0.8, down from 0.7 to 0.9 a week ago, with prevalence of coronavirus in England now the lowest it has been since September, according to the Office for National Statistics.