Coronavirus

COVID: 25 Military Personnel Advising UK's Vaccination Task Force

The UK is preparing to roll out vaccinations for COVID-19 ahead of regulatory approvals being given.

Twenty-five military personnel have been drafted in to advise the Government’s Vaccination Task Force.

Military planners are helping to formulate the UK's mass vaccination programme against COVID-19, with other personnel likely to be involved in setting up inoculation centres across the country.

It comes after military personnel began arriving at Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol on Monday ahead of transforming it into a mass vaccine centre.

Tobias Ellwood MP, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said: "You’re now going to see many people in uniform coming about the country in different places - Bristol is one, Bournemouth, at the International Centre, will be another.

"These will be regional hubs where they’ll be looking to vaccinate about 10,000 people a day.

"Then, from there, teams will disperse out to go into care homes, schools, other places like that to get the vaccinations done."

Mr Ellwood said this will be "led by the civilians" and the NHS, but the public will also be "likely to see military medics" administering the vaccines, too.

Sites across the country, including stadiums and racecourses, are reportedly being looked at as possible inoculation centres.

Five military planners are now embedded within the Government’s Vaccine Task Force, with two more advising the unit’s director on the best way to plan the roll out of a vaccine once available.

Twenty other personnel are helping with regional vaccine planning, logistics and delivery.

RAF personnel at Merthyr Tydfil leisure centre help with coronavirus covid mass testing 261120 CREDIT BFBS
Personnel have been assisting with community coronavirus testing in recent weeks, including in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

They are split into two groups and are working across the 10 NHS regions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Researchers across the world are working towards vaccines for COVID-19.

A factory in Wrexham, north Wales, is planning to produce 150,000 vials of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine every day, five days a week, with a capacity to manufacture 300 million doses a year.

It is thought the vaccination site in Bristol could be ready to use by next week, although it depends on when vaccination licenses are approved. 

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is expected to receive regulatory approval within days, reports suggest. 

British military personnel have been a key part of the country's coronavirus response, with the Armed Forces now preparing for its role over the winter months.

About 14,000 personnel are now being held at graduated readiness as part of the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) Winter Preparedness Package – on standby to assist local authorities with coronavirus over the winter period.

General view of closed facilities outside Ashton Gate Stadium - home of Bristol City FC - ahead of match against Sheffield Wednesday 280620 CREDIT PA
Ashton Gate Stadium is set to be used as a mass vaccine centre (Picture: PA).

As part of the Winter Support Force, servicemen and women will soon help launch a major community testing programme for COVID-19 in England over the winter months.

On Monday, the former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger, made his first appearance at a coronavirus press conference at Downing Street.

Sir Gordon was appointed to lead the Government’s community testing programme and said the level of military involvement seen in Liverpool during a testing pilot was not sustainable.

He said: "The military support, along with all other types of central support, has to be targeted where it's needed most and where it can have the greatest effect."

RAF personnel also recently supported a testing programme in south Wales.

Cover image: Library picture of a serviceman in Liverpool helping with COVID-19 testing.