The chairman of the UK Vaccines Taskforce has said every adult in the UK could receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the summer.
Vaccines tsar Clive Dix told Sky News people could get two shots by August or September “or maybe sooner if we need to”.
The timeframe is quicker than previously laid out by government ministers.
Earlier this month, Downing Street confirmed that the vaccine programme is intended to reach all those aged 50 and over, as well as adults aged 16-65 in an at-risk group, by May.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has previously said every adult in the UK will be offered a first dose of vaccine by September.
Dix, who runs the body which identifies and buys vaccines on behalf of the UK government, also allayed fears that the limited global supply of the vaccine will hamper the UK’s rapid roll-out programme.
When asked if he was confident that Covid-19 vaccines would continue to arrive at the rate promised over the next three to six months, Dix said: “Yes, definitely.
“We are confident within the Vaccine Taskforce now that the supply we’re going to get will take to us to a position where we can vaccinate as many people as the UK wants to vaccinate.”
When asked when he thought all adults could receive both doses, he said: “We’re probably talking August time or September time all done, maybe sooner if we need to.”
Government data up to February 15 shows that of the 16,122,272 jabs given in the UK so far, 15,576,107 were first doses – a rise of 275,956 on the previous day.
Some 546,165 were second doses, an increase of 6,535 on figures released the previous day.
In other developments:
– Almost two million more people are to be told to shield to protect themselves from serious side-effects from Covid-19 after a new tool has identified those who are at high risk of severe disease or death.
– New Office for National Statistics data suggests that the Covid-19 vaccination programme is working as increasing numbers of people are showing protective antibodies in their blood.
– Separate ONS data show the number of weekly registered deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has fallen for the first time since Christmas.
– But figures also show that more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths occurred each day for 23 days in a row in the UK in January.
– Scientists have identified another new variant of coronavirus which has potentially concerning mutations. Public Health England has identified 38 cases of “variant under investigation” known as B.1.525.
– First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that some pupils in Scotland will return to school from February 22 but the stay-at-home lockdown order will continue until at least the beginning of March and possibly longer.
– Surge testing will be deployed in parts of Norfolk, Southampton and Woking, Surrey, where the South African Covid-19 variant has been found, and expanded in Manchester.