UK’s £5.6bn Covid jabs rollout was ‘good value’ for money – even though 4.7MILLION vaccines were binned, spending watchdog says
- The National Audit Office has further praised Britain’s vaccination programme
- Its success helped to ‘save lives and reduce serious illness and hospitalisation’
- UK’s Covid vaccination programme has been widely lauded as ‘world-beating’
Britain’s Covid vaccination drive was good value for money, No10’s public spending watchdog has claimed.
The National Audit Office heaped further praise on the £5.6bn jabs rollout – adding that far fewer doses were wasted than predicted.
It claimed securing a supply of vaccines early on in the pandemic was ‘crucial’ to its success and this helped to ‘save lives and reduce serious illness and hospitalisation’.
The independent watchdog warned there were still risks ahead for the programme, however, including staff burnout.
In a report released today, covering a period up to the end of October 2021, the NAO said wastage of about 4.7 million doses – 4 per cent of the total – had been ‘much lower than the programme initially assumed’.
Today the public spending watchdog has heaped further praise on the £5.6billion jabs rollout – adding that far fewer doses were wasted than predicted (stock photo used)
Face-to-face GP fund waste
The NHS was last night accused of squandering a £250million fund aimed at increasing the number of face-to-face GP meetings.
The fund was launched in October in a move by the NHS and Department of Health to improve access for patients.
But figures reveal the proportion of in-person appointments has actually fallen.
Family doctors carried out 25.6 million routine consultations in January but just 60 per cent were face to face – the lowest rate since last August and down from 80 per cent pre-pandemic.
NHS England was unable to say how much of the fund had been spent, or how.
The NAO, which only looked at first and second doses, said the operation had been ‘an effective use of public money’.
The report said the programme had cost £5.6billion, out of £8.3billion available over the two years to March this year.
This included £2.9billion purchasing the jabs from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and other pharmaceutical giants.
Doses cost £15.02 each on average, the NAO said, while the average cost of administering each jab was £25.70.
However, it warned that staff burnout could affect delivery of jabs to the remaining unvaccinated adults, of which there are 3.7million.
And the NAO called on ministers to ‘redouble’ efforts to ensure jabs were available to those who had not yet been vaccinated.
The report also said that vaccine uptake among some ethnic minority groups, younger people and pregnant women ‘remained substantially below the national average’.
Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: ‘The vaccine programme has been successful in getting early access to what were brand new Covid-19 vaccines, securing supply of them, and administering them to a large proportion of the population at unprecedented speed.
‘The programme must now redouble its efforts to reach those who are not yet vaccinated while also considering what a more sustainable model will involve as it moves out of its emergency phase.’
Dame Meg Hillier, Labour chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said the speed and uptake of the rollout had been a ‘real success’.
She said: ‘Great credit is due to all those involved, including the scientists creating the vaccines, the national bodies involved in securing the doses we needed, and all those administering the jabs.’
But she added: ‘Government needs to do more to understand how it can better reach those groups and communities where uptake was low.’
Britain started offering booster vaccines to older age groups — who are more vulnerable to the virus — this winter amid concern over waning immunity.
But in December the drive was thrown open to all over-18s amid concern over the more infectious Omicron variant, with officials aiming to deliver a million jabs a day.
Government dashboard data shows 38million people — or more than 66 per cent of over-18s — have received their third dose to date.
Fourth jabs for over-75s, care home residents and the most were approved this week, with the roll-out set to start in the spring.
Vaccination chiefs say they are also looking at offering extra Covid jabs this autumn, and are considering an annual vaccination drive — similar to the yearly flu jabs.