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AstraZeneca to supply 2 mn vaccine doses to UK every week (REUTERS)
AstraZeneca to supply 2 mn vaccine doses to UK every week (REUTERS)

AstraZeneca to supply 2 mn vaccine doses to UK every week

The Times of London reported, an AstraZeneca team member expects to supply two million doses of the vaccine in total by next week. In the wake of the new Covid strain, the UK government, meanwhile, ordered all primary schools in London to remain closed for the start of the new term next week.

About two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca are set to be supplied every week by the middle of January in the United Kingdom, The Times reported.

AstraZeneca expects to supply two million doses of the vaccine in total by next week, the newspaper reported, citing an unnamed member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca team. "The plan is then to build it up fairly rapidly - by the third week of January we should get to two million a week," the report added.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that only 530,000 doses of the vaccine would be ready on Monday. The Oxford team is frustrated that the poor state of the country’s manufacturing capacity has affected the pace of production, the newspaper said, citing the group member.

The U.K.’s scientific advisers estimate that 2 million vaccinations a week are needed, on top of a lockdown including school closures, to prevent pressure on intensive-care units from exceeding the levels of the first wave, the Times reported.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered 100 million doses for the country as part of an agreement with the company. The company had said it aims to supply millions of doses in the first quarter, adding that first vaccinations are slated to begin this year.

Britain, which has recorded more than 50,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 for the last four days, is dealing with a rapid spread of a much more infectious variant of the coronavirus. As of Friday, the UK has recorded 53,285 new COVID-19 cases and 613 deaths.

Primary schools in London to remain shut

The U.K. government ordered all primary schools in London to remain closed for the start of the new term next week in an attempt to rein in a jump in hospitalizations resulting from the mutant strain of the coronavirus.

From Monday, the capital’s primary schools -- for children from 5 to 11 years -- will have to provide remote learning for most pupils. Vulnerable children and those whose guardians are key workers will continue to attend school. Pre-schools will remain open, the government said Friday.

The government had originally omitted 10 London areas from a list of schools that would be closed, but yielded after local authorities complained to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. London mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the government’s change of heart.

London has one of the country’s highest levels of Covid-19 infections per capita -- in the most recent week of complete data, the capital had a rate of 807 cases per 100,000 people, compared with a rate of 675 in the previous week.

“The situation in London continues to worsen and so today we are taking action to protect the public and reduce the spread of this disease in the community," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the statement.

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