News narrows chances of hitting goal of protecting more than 13 million of most vulnerable people by 15 February

Health officials have warned that supply “delays” mean the Covid vaccination programme is only set to hit its target pace in the second half of this month, narrowing the chances of hitting the goal of protecting more than 13 million vulnerable people by 15 February.

AstraZeneca, which is overseeing the manufacture of the newest vaccine, claims it has over 3m doses. But government sources said talks are ongoing with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) about the need to speed up safety checks of batches, which have taken up to 20 days.

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