The British Army will play a pivotal role in the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Attending this evening’s vaccine briefing was Brigadier Phil Prosser, commander of 101 Logistic Brigade, who said his team’s mission was to support the NHS in minimising “the number of deaths, as quickly and as safely as possible”.
However, “many challenges” lie ahead. An operation of this scale “has not been done before, and we are learning as we go,” Prosser warned.
The Brigadier, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, also spoke movingly of how “honoured” he and his team were to deliver care at home.
He said: “I am a proud member of the armed forces, an organisation drawn from all communities across the UK and the Commonwealth. My team and I are honoured to be able to serve those communities and protect our nation at home.”
It was also announced that vaccines will be made available to everyone within ten miles of their home. NHS hospitals and surgeries will form the bulk of this service, with the army manning several massive test centres across the country. Civilian volunteers will also administer injections.
“St Johns ambulance are working with us, they’ve identified over 20,000 volunteers who want to come and help, together with the Royal voluntary service, and others,” said the chief executive of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens who revealed that 80,000 volunteers have been trained with these particular types of vaccinations.
“In addition to that, we are unashamedly tapping into the logistics, or brilliance of the armed forces to ensure that the supply chain and the distribution works well, alongside the usual channels or the hospitals and GPS and pharmacists,” added Stevens.
The army’s 21 vaccination quick reaction force teams would also be made available should they be required.
1.5 million people have now been given Covid jabs. We “are truly throwing everything at it and round the clock if necessary,” said the Boris Johnson, who raised his mid-February target from 13 to 15 million jabs and pledged to make hundreds of thousands of injections available by 15 January.
Another 1,162 deaths were recorded today, the highest daily total since April 21.