Coronavirus

COVID: Extra 353 Military Personnel Deploying Across Scotland

The move will bring the total number of Armed Forces personnel deployed on COVID duties in Scotland to 466.

An extra 353 military personnel are being deployed to assist with coronavirus testing and vaccine delivery programmes across Scotland.

It is the largest single deployment of Armed Forces personnel to the country since the start of the pandemic.

The move brings the total number of military personnel assisting with Scotland's COVID-19 response to 466.

An additional 33 medics are being deployed to Dumfries and Galloway and Fife to help assist at vaccination centres.

From the beginning of next week, 320 personnel will start supporting the Scottish government’s asymptomatic testing programme.

One-hundred and seventy troops from 39 Engineer Regiment, based at Kinloss Barracks, and 75 personnel from both the 2nd Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, based at Leuchars Station, will now spend an initial week planning and preparing, before helping administer the tests the following week.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: "Our fantastic British Armed Forces have played a key role in the fight against COVID-19 in Scotland.

Soldiers set up a mass vaccination centre in Glasgow (Picture: MOD).

"Getting jabs into arms is essential, and I am grateful that military personnel will continue to help with Scotland's vital vaccination programme.

"Alongside the rollout of vaccines, testing remains extremely important. I am pleased that the expertise of our Armed Forces will help set up Scotland’s new asymptomatic testing programme."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The vaccine rollout is the largest medical deployment this country has ever seen.

"I’m grateful for the efforts of our Armed Forces as we work together as one United Kingdom to make sure everyone eligible can get their jab as quickly as possible."

It comes as Downing Street said it has confidence over the vaccine supply and hitting its priority groups target after the Scottish government said it would be scaling back its vaccination programme as jab supplies to the UK dip.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said there will be a drop in vaccine supply across all four nations of the UK, caused by work being carried out by Pfizer – the manufacturer of one of the approved coronavirus vaccines.

Soldiers that set up vaccine centres across Scotland will hand the sites over to NHS Scotland next week (Picture: MOD).

She said Scotland should hit its target of vaccinating 400,000 adults a week ahead of schedule this week, but the programme will then "need to scale back a bit".

Pfizer is having to temporarily reduce output as part of an overall effort to increase manufacturing capacity amid worldwide demand for vaccines.

It is understood some mass vaccination centres in Wales are expected to reduce their operating hours in response to a planned dip in supply.

The UK has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech.

Meanwhile, 98 soldiers from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards already deployed to help set up 80 vaccine centres across Scotland will successfully complete their task on Monday and handover the sites to NHS Scotland.

Cover image: Soldiers set up a vaccine centre in Scotland (Picture: MOD).