Boris Johnson says army is ‘working with NHS’
The drugs will be added to the NHS armoury after a study found they can save the lives of critically ill patients. Sufferers given one of two arthritis drugs, tocilizumab or sarilumab, also typically left intensive care seven to 10 days earlier than those receiving standard care. Mr Johnson said: “These life-saving drugs will be available for the NHS with immediate effect, potentially saving thousands of lives.”
The Prime Minister has also drawn up a military-style battle plan to boost the number of vaccinations delivered daily across Britain.
He has promised an “unprecedented national effort” with hundreds of thousands of protective jabs delivered daily within a week.
The Army will work with the NHS to roll out the ambitious programme.
The PM laid out his mass vaccination plans yesterday. He insisted every care home resident will have been offered inoculation by the end of the month.
Everyone in the country should be no more than 10 miles away from a vaccination facility within days, it was said.
The PM has drawn up a military-style battle plan to boost the number of vaccinations delivered
Some 223 more hospitals and more than 1,000 GP-led surgeries and health centres should be providing jabs by the end of next week.
And a new national appointment booking system is set to come on stream imminently.
Mr Johnson said: “This is a national challenge on a scale like nothing we’ve seen before and it will require an unprecedented national effort.
“The Army is working hand in glove with the NHS and local councils to set up our vaccine network and using battle preparation techniques to help us keep up the pace.”
Mr Johnson’s latest promise to drastically ramp up the national vaccination programme came after data revealed the country had suffered the second highest daily death toll since the pandemic began.
Mr Johnson said 88 percent of those who have died from the virus were in the most vulnerable groups
Figures showed a further 1,162 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid as of yesterday, the highest daily total since April 21. It took the UK’s total death toll to 78,508.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the PM said: “All together, 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.
“We’ve now vaccinated 1.26 million people in England, 113,000 in Scotland, 49,000 in Wales and 46,000 in Northern Ireland.
“It is thanks to the arrival of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored at room temperature, that we can accelerate the pace of vaccination in care homes.
“We’re using that vaccine in care homes for the first time today and by the end of the month we hope to have offered every elderly care home resident a vaccine.”
Mr Johnson said 88 percent of patients who have died from coronavirus so far in the UK were in the most vulnerable groups, which the Government plans to have vaccinated by mid-February. He said: “It follows from that, that the limits will not be on our distributional power but on the supply of vaccines, and I have no doubt that we have enough supply to vaccinate these groups by the February 15 deadline.
“We also have the distributional network to do it and to continue an expanding programme down the priority list.”
He admitted there would likely be “difficulties” in the rollout of the vaccine.
The PM added: “Of course in the early phases there is going to be lumpiness and bumpiness in the distribution.
The PM insisted every care home resident will have been offered inoculation by the end of the month
“Today it may be that some GPs aren’t getting the consignments expected. Other GPs are doing an incredible job getting jabs into people’s arms.”
Brigadier Phil Prosser, the Army combat logistic expert coordinating the military support for the Government’s vaccination programme, said troops were “embedded” with the NHS.
He said: “We have been working with some of the most professional, dedicated and amazing people that I have had the honour to serve alongside. We are one team.”
Brig Prosser, who is Commander of the 101 Logistic Brigade, said his troops are “learning as we go” as a vaccination programme on the Government’s scale has never been attempted before. He added: “It is my role to deliver combat supplies to UK forces in time of war.
“My team are used to complexity and building supply chains at speed, in the most arduous and challenging conditions.
“We aim to deliver vaccine as soon after it is supplied as possible, not leaving vast quantities in the warehouse. It needs to be in arms, not on shelves.
“I have found this logistic operation to be unparalleled in its scale and complexity and I say this having served on operations around the world. To give you some impression of the work that has been done, in the 30 days this programme has been in operation we have delivered over 1.26 million doses of vaccine, hundreds of millions of consumable items and established 769 sites.
“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 per cent.
“I have been immensely proud to see how everyone in this programme has stepped up to deliver professional excellence when the country has needed it most.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca jab is said to be accelerating the pace of vaccinations in care homes
“At every level the NHS and my team have faced the numerous challenges with a heroic will to succeed.
“I feel immensely proud of our collective national effort in supporting the NHS and I truly believe we will defeat this pandemic together.”
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock thanked the scientists and patients involved in the clinical trials for the arthritis drugs.
He said: “Today’s results are yet another landmark development in finding a way out of this pandemic and, when added to the armoury of vaccines and treatments already being rolled out, will play a significant role in defeating this virus.”