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Boris Johnson brought out the big guns to reassure the public his ambitious Covid vaccine target will be hit.
The PM told a press conference the Army will use “battle preparation techniques” to protect the UK’s most vulnerable by mid February.
He introduced Brigadier Phil Prosser, the commander of military support for the vaccine, who said: “It is my role to deliver combat supplies to UK forces in time of war.
“My team are used to building supply chains at speed in the most arduous and challenging conditions.”
The rollout is the UK’s biggest logistical operation since the Second World War. Brigadier Prosser said the military used three steps in such complex operations.
“First, we analyse the situation and the mission, we then identify choices to select the best plan, and then we execute that plan at pace,” he said.
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Hundreds of vaccination centres will open over the next week so there is one within 10 miles of every home.
The aim is that every elderly care home resident will be offered their first dose by the end of the month.
Operations are due to begin next week at the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester, Epsom Downs racecourse in Surrey, Robertson House in Stevenage, Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, Millennium Point in Birmingham and London ExCel.
It is understood some care home workers are already receiving jabs at Newcastle’s Centre for Life.
Mr Johnson said there will be “lumpiness and bumpiness” in the rollout, adding: “It will require an unprecedented national effort.”
Boris Johnson said the rollout "will require unprecedented national effort"
(Image: Getty Images)
UK Army logistics commander Brigadier Phil Prosser arrives at 10 Downing Street
(Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The Mirror, Labour and the TUC have launched a Let’s Vaccinate Britain campaign to encourage thousands to sign up as NHS volunteers.
We also want them to get the jab and challenge anti-vax fake news.
Almost 1.3m people have had a jab but more than 200,000 need one every day to hit the target.
Brig Prosser, Commander of the 101 Logistics Brigade, said: “I’ve found this operation unparalleled in scale and complexity, and I say this having served around the world.
“In the 30 days this programme has been in operation we have delivered 1.26 million doses of vaccine, hundreds of millions of consumable items and established 769 sites.
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“That’s the equivalent to setting up a major supermarket chain in less than a month, and next week we will further increase our footprint by another 20%.”
Hospitals face bleak weeks ahead with 10,000 people admitted with Covid since Christmas.
NHS England chief Simon Stevens said most were infected between Christmas and New Year when rules were relaxed. He said: “We’ve made a strong start on the vaccination programme but we need a huge acceleration over the next five weeks.”
He slammed Covid deniers standing around outside hospitals.
Ministers have said people may need to be revaccinated every six months in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Labour leader Keir Starmer called on the public to “put our shoulder to the wheel” but said vaccination centres needed better information about deliveries. “What they want is to know how many doses, how many batches they are getting so they can plan into the next few weeks,” he said.
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, where the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab was developed, said he was “very confident” the UK would “get on top of” the virus in months.