The Vaccine Taskforce has made, and continues to make, decisions rapidly to tackle COVID-19 and its variants. This has been recognised by the Public Accounts Committee in its recent report, that “the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and Public Health England have made major and world beating progress in buying and starting to roll-out the vaccines.”
The Vaccine Taskforce has worked at pace, resulting in the UK being the first country to procure, authorise, and deploy the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines. This is the largest immunisation programme in UK history and, as of 23 February, over 17.5 million people in the UK have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This has been alongside various other achievements within the past 11 months, including:
- The Government has struck agreements to buy 457 million doses of vaccines across eight leading candidates, including the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford University/AstraZeneca, and Moderna vaccines, which have shown positive efficacy results through clinical trials.
- The Government has invested over £300 million to ensure the country's vaccine manufacturing capabilities are scaled-up, so that effective vaccines can be made available to the public as quickly as possible.
- Over 440,000 people have enrolled in a national registry expressing their interest to take part in clinical trials to accelerate the development of a successful vaccine.
- The Government has committed to ensuring that everyone at risk of COVID-19, anywhere in the world, has access to safe and effective vaccines, and has donated £500 million to the COVAX international vaccine-sharing initiative to enable this.