£1.6bn extra funding for Covid vaccine rollout should help UK reach July target

By Helen Johnson
Monday, 1st March 2021, 10:46 am
Updated Monday, 1st March 2021, 10:46 am
The UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme will receive an extra £1.65 billion in the Budget (Photo: TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme will receive an extra £1.65 billion in the Budget in order to help reach the Government’s target of offering every adult a first dose by 31 July.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce details of this year’s Budget on Wednesday (3 March), including details of the new cash boost to aid the vaccination programme.

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£1.65bn to go to UK Covid vaccination programme

Nearly 20 million people across the UK have received a Covid vaccine so far, but Mr Sunak has said it is “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,” he added.

The Treasury said the chancellor is expected to outline improvements to the UK's response to new Covid variants in his Budget announcement.

Mr Sunak will also pledge to put £28m from the Vaccine Taskforce's existing funding into the expansion of the UK's vaccine testing capability, and the ability to acquire samples of new Covid variants quickly.

Alongside this, £5 million will be used by the Centre for Process Innovation in Darlington in order to create a "library" of Covid vaccines to use in its work against different coronavirus variants.

The Treasury also said that Mr Sunak will also divert £22 million to fund a “world first” trial, which will test if different vaccines can be used together, or if a third dose is effective.

On Sunday (28 Feb) the Chancellor indicated that he also will extend emergency support packages, such as the furlough scheme, but he said he must repair the public finances from the “enormous shock” of the Covid pandemic, with the increase of taxes also possible.

Mr Sunak told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “We went big, we went early and there’s more to come next week.”

The Chancellor said he does “want to deliver low taxes” but that “over time what we need to do is make sure our public finances are sustainable”.