The British vaccine taskforce has announced that, while the vast majority of the UK’s 100 million AstraZeneca doses will come from the UK, the first shots will come from European production centres.

Ian McCubbin, manufacturing lead for the vaccine taskforce, said on Tuesday that the first doses of the UK’s much-touted homegrown jab would be imported. 

“The initial supply – and it’s a little bit of a quirk of the programme, actually – comes from the Netherlands and Germany,” he told reporters. 

“But once that’s supplied, which we expect will be by the end of this year, then the remainder of the supply will be a UK supply chain,” he added.

The vaccine, developed by Oxford University and UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is one of the forerunners in the race for a safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19.

McCubbin stated that once the first batches have been delivered, the rest of the supply – approximately 80 percent of the 100 million doses – will come from the UK. 

Earlier on Tuesday, UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said he expected the AstraZeneca vaccine to receive approval for roll-out in the UK in the coming weeks.

The UK government formally asked the country’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to review the vaccine on November 27, following interim trial data.

Tuesday also marks the start of the UK’s mass vaccination programme, using the US’s Pfizer vaccine.

On Monday, junior minister James Cleverly said the UK has “extensive plans” to deal with potential gridlock at British ports post-Brexit. Cleverly said military assets may be used to airlift Pfizer vaccine stocks from their manufacturing site in Belgium. 

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