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Vaccine programme to receive £1.7bn ‘shot in the arm’ in Budget

Written by on 28/02/2021

A huge boost in spending on the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine programme will be announced by the chancellor in the Budget on Wednesday.

Rishi Sunak will pledge a further £1.65bn for jabs, a cash injection hailed by the Treasury as a “shot in the arm” for the vaccine roll-out.

The chancellor will also promise to invest a further £33m in vaccine testing and development to protect against future outbreaks and variants.

And there will be another £22m for what the government claims will be a “world-leading study” to test the effectiveness of combinations of different vaccines.

Figures published by the National Audit Office show the UK has spent £12 billion on its vaccination campaign so far.

The bill includes £2.9bn paid for 267 million doses of five different vaccines.

The UK is believed to have spent between £24 and £28 per dose on the Moderna jab.

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The UK-manufactured Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has cost the government around £3 per jab, while the Pfizer/BioNTech jab has a price tag of around £15.

The extra spending on vaccines in the Budget was revealed after the UK passed the major milestone of more than 20 million people receiving their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

It also follows the detection of three cases of the new Brazil COVID-19 “variant of concern” in Gloucestershire and three more in Scotland.

Mr Sunak claims the extra £1.65bn for vaccines will ensure the entire nation is protected from the virus and every adult offered a dose by 31 July.

Ahead of his Budget statement, he said: “The UK’s vaccination programme has been a great success and is protecting lives and livelihoods, with over 19 million people already receiving their first dose.

“But it’s essential we maintain this momentum.

“Protecting ourselves against the virus means we will be able to lift restrictions, reopen our economy and focus our attention on creating jobs and stimulating growth.”

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The £33m to improve vaccine testing will include a £28m to expand the UK’s testing capability and its ability rapidly to acquire samples of new variants

The government says Public Health England’s vaccine testing capability is critical to the national and international effort to develop successful COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible.

It will also contain £5m for the creation of a “library” of COVID-19 vaccines at the Centre for Process Innovation in Darlington that will work against different variants of the virus.

The £22m study will test if different vaccines can be used together, or if a third dose can be effective.

The government says these studies will provide a key part of evidence for decisions on how to use combinations of vaccines to best protect against variants of COVID-19.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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