Politics

Rishi Sunak ‘warned officials over cost of regular booster jabs’


Chancellor Rishi Sunak ‘tells Sajid Javid offering regular Covid booster jabs to the nation will have major cost implications for the Treasury’ amid Whitehall warnings that ‘doses do not grow on trees’

  • Rishi Sunak said to have raised cost concerns over regular Covid booster jabs
  • Chancellor reportedly warned funding regular jabs could hit spending pledges
  • Health bosses have said regular coronavirus vaccinations could be needed 










Rishi Sunak has told Sajid Javid that making the coronavirus booster jab programme a regular occurrence would have major cost implications for the Treasury, it was claimed today.

The Chancellor is said to have warned Department of Health officials in recent meetings that funding the jabs – should they be needed every three to six months – could hit Government spending pledges. 

It came amid warnings from Whitehall that the ‘doses do not grow on trees’ and will have to be paid for either by cutting spending elsewhere or by raising taxes.  

Rishi Sunak has told Sajid Javid that making the coronavirus booster jab programme a regular occurrence would have major cost implications for the Treasury, it was claimed today

Rishi Sunak has told Sajid Javid that making the coronavirus booster jab programme a regular occurrence would have major cost implications for the Treasury, it was claimed today

The Chancellor is said to have warned officials from Mr Javid's department in recent meetings that funding the jabs - should they become needed every three to six months - could hit Government spending pledges

The Chancellor is said to have warned officials from Mr Javid’s department in recent meetings that funding the jabs – should they become needed every three to six months – could hit Government spending pledges

Heath chiefs and ministers have suggested that Covid boosters are going to be needed repeatedly in the coming years. 

A Whitehall source told The Guardian that while Mr Sunak did not oppose a regular booster programme he is said to have expressed concerns about how much it would cost and how it would be paid for.          

Referring to meetings between the Chancellor and health officials, the source told the newspaper: ‘He made the point, rightly, that people would feel the effects of that spending in NHS and household budgets. 

‘These doses do not grow on trees. Worst case scenario, if a new variant comes along or if Omicron doesn’t burn out, if we have to do this for years to come, that’s billions in costs that has not been foreseen which has to be paid for.’

Mr Sunak reportedly warned that paying for a regular booster programme has not been factored into the Government’s spending plans. 

The Government is set to raise an extra £12billion in taxes through its new health and social care levy which is supposed to boost the NHS and then social care.

However, the prospect of a regular jab programme will inevitably prompt speculation that ministers could raid the new levy to fund the rollout.   

It is unclear exactly how much a regular booster programme would cost because the Government does not reveal how much it pays for jabs.   

But estimates have suggested that administering a jab every six months could cost £5billion a year.

Heath chiefs and ministers have suggested that Covid boosters are going to be needed repeatedly in the coming years. A vaccination centre is pictured in London yesterday

Heath chiefs and ministers have suggested that Covid boosters are going to be needed repeatedly in the coming years. A vaccination centre is pictured in London yesterday 

A Treasury source told the newspaper: ‘We are continuing to do whatever it takes to support our fight against Covid, including providing new funding to roll out our booster campaign as quickly as possible to protect people from Omicron. We will also ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly.’ 

The Department of Health announced at the start of December that it had agreed a deal to secure an extra 114million Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, to be delivered over the next two years. 

That was in addition to 35million new doses of Pfizer ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60million Novavax and 7.5million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said earlier this month that Brits ‘probably will’ have to get a coronavirus booster jab every year.



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