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NHS leaders warn of no-deal Brexit flu vaccine delays

Follows prior delay in production of the vaccine

Vaccine

A no-deal Brexit would make delays in the flu vaccine supply this year “likely”, according to doctors and NHS leaders. 

Sanofi, a major flu vaccine manufacture, has also said that delays in deciding whichstrains of flu to use in the vaccine meanthat over a million doses will have to be imported after 31 October, the current Brexit deadline.

Which strain is used in the flu vaccine in the northern hemisphere is decided in February by the World Health Organization (WHO), but it took longer than usual this year to identify which were to be included. This has created an overall delay in the production schedule for the flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine is usually available for delivery by the end of August and throughout September. However, because of the production delay this year, if a no-deal does take place, the UK could have difficulty in importing doses of the vaccine. A further problem is that because of the nature of the flu vaccine, doses cannot be stockpiled in advance.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that it has plans to set up an ‘express freight service’ to deliver medicines and medical products to the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The service, according to the government, will be able to deliver small parcels of medicines on a 24-hour basis and larger containments on a two-to-four-day basis. It also said that although most goods will be standard medicine products, the service will also be able to deliver temperature-controlled products if necessary.

Following the expert warnings regarding the flu vaccine, it looks likely that it will be necessary that the service will need to deliver medicines which must be treated with care. However, the government is yet to secure a supplier for the contract, but potential bidders have until 21 August to submit proposals.

NHS doctors and healthcare professionals are particularly worried because there are already several signs of a tough winter for the NHS.

"We are coming out of summer with record levels of demand for urgent and emergency care, leaving trusts struggling to catch up,” said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers.

"We are seeing a severe level of flu in Australia and, on top of this, health services may be grappling with the 'new normal' of a no-deal Brexit," she added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

30th August 2019

From: Healthcare

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