Coronavirus

COVID: Army To Use 'Battle Preparation Techniques' In Vaccine Rollout

Boris Johnson said almost 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated against the disease

The British Army will use "battle preparation techniques" to keep up the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the UK, with hundreds of thousands of doses a day administered by the middle of this month, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister said almost 1.5 million people have now been vaccinated against the disease and the Government intends to make sure everyone in care homes has had a jab by the end of January.

Speaking at Thursday's Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said people had a right to know how quickly jabs could be rolled out and stressed that the NHS was ready to administer vaccines as quickly as they could be supplied.

It comes as the vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University is rolled out across GP surgeries in England.

Mr Johnson told the briefing: "We’ve now vaccinated 1.26 million people in England, 113,000 in Scotland, 49,000 in Wales and 46,000 in Northern Ireland.

"So altogether, nearly 1.5 million people across the UK have now received their first dose and within two to three weeks all of them will have a very considerable degree of immunity."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace earlier said he expects military personnel to be "doing injections" by February, as part of their role in the Government's mass vaccination programme.

There are currently 21 vaccination quick reaction force teams on standby to deploy across England at short notice.

Each team is made up of six military healthcare experts, with plans to grow it to 250 or more teams across the country if needed.

The British Army officer responsible for coordinating the military's support to the coronavirus vaccination programme says the logistical task has been "unparalleled in its scale and complexity".

Brigadier Phil Prosser, Commander of Military Support to the Vaccine Delivery Programme, added that his team is "embedded" with the NHS.

He said his "day job" is to deliver combat supplies to UK forces in time of war, adding: "My team are used to complexity and building supply chains at speed in the most arduous and challenging conditions."

Brig Prosser said the mission is to support the NHS in delivering the maximum amount of vaccine to minimise the number of infections and deaths as quickly and as safely as possible.

"The plan has many challenges which are difficult to balance," he said.

"We need to make sure that every one of you has equal access to the vaccine, no matter where you are in England."

Brig Prosser continued: "We use techniques tried and tested on previous operations in the UK and abroad," but he admitted "we are learning as we go".