BORIS Johnson last night vowed to vaccinate at least 200,000 Brits a day by next week — with the Army joining his Covid war.
The PM said that by next Friday, January 15, the rollout of the vaccine would be hugely ramped up, as he revealed that nearly 1.5million had been given their first dose so far.
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Putting Britain on a war-footing in his new strategy to defeat the virus with “battle preparation techniques to help us keep up the pace” the PM laid out his plan for how to get there.
A new national booking service for people to be vaccinated will also be unveiled – and no one will have to travel more than ten miles to get one, the PM added.
He said more than 1,400 hospitals, GP practices and pharmacies would be immunising patients by the end of next week.
And he insisted he had “no doubt” that there would be enough supply to offer everyone in the top four vulnerable groups a vaccine by his February 15 deadline.
He added: “We are in a race against time, but I can assure you we are doing everything we can to vaccinate as many people as we can across the whole of the UK.”
The PM admitted his vow to inoculate 13.5 million in five weeks was “very challenging and stretching”.
A fuller plan will be published on Monday – along with the first day of the daily vaccine figures.
NHS boss Simon Stevens said the bulk of the jabs will be through GPs offering it to local patients, but people will also be able to get them through hospital hubs, and mass vaccination centres working 7 days a week.
He noted that the Israelis had chosen to do more vaccinations through larger sites – which is partly why they had given out more doses to their population so far.
Mr Stevens also warned that the number of people in hospital was now 50 per cent higher than the first wave, as he begged Brits to stick to the rules and was “vital we all do take the steps necessary to control the growth of infection”.
And he tragically told how “We’ve seen an increase of 10,000 hospitalised coronavirus patients just since Christmas Day”.
The equivalent of 20 acute hospitals has been admitted since Christmas day – and many caught Covid between Xmas and New Year.
It came as:
- The UK recorded 52,618 new COVID-19 coronavirus cases and 1,162 additional deaths
- Matt Hancock laid out four criteria for lifting Britain’s lockdown – and said he thinks this third lockdown will be the last
- Cops warned they would step up fines of people not wearing masks and breaking lockdown laws
- Priti Patel backed police in stopping cars or approaching people in parks to tell them to remain at home
- A new Covid drug was revealed today which can slash the amount of time sick people are spending in hospital
- A hospital in Kent declared it may be forced into “refusal or withdrawal of critical care due to resource limitation” as it was struggling so much
Brigadier Phil Prosser – appearing alongside the PM – told how top military battlefield planners will help thousands more to receive the jab in the coming weeks.
He said the strategy was “unparalleled in its scale and complexity” – even after his previous work in war zones in the past.
He said: “We aim to deliver vaccinations as soon after it is supplied as possible, not leaving vast supplies in the warehouse.
“In arms, not on shelves.”
21 rapid teams are also on hand to deliver vaccines quickly, if needed.
MoD top brass have been ordered to come up with plans for even distribution of the jab for all those that need it within the PM’s target of vaccinating the most vulnerable by mid-February.
Government insiders insisted that the deployment was military planners rather than troops at this stage.
An army of 80,000 volunteers, including police, firefighters and retired medics, are ready to start inoculating
Last week Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the military have “plans for up to 250 teams of mobile, medically trained personnel who could go out and administer the vaccine around the country.”
And he vowed that could deliver “over 100-thousand a day if that is requested by the NHS…and we’re planning to even grow that if possible.”
It came after furious MPs and medics demanded Britain stop dithering and vaccinate round the clock to hit the three million jabs a week.
The UK was the first in the world to authorise a vaccine and 17,500 people have this week joined The Sun’s Jabs Army crusade — but the nation has fallen behind Israel and Bahrain in rolling out the injections.
Despairing docs have been unable to act after their promised doses were repeatedly cancelled in some areas.
And pharmacies say their offer to help has been “ignored”.
Former minister Dr Liam Fox is among ex-GPs who have volunteered to help but been hindered by red tape.
And Public Health England admitted it is not even delivering vaccines to hospitals on Sundays.
Lib Dem health chief Munira Wilson told the Commons yesterday: “We are in a race against time to save lives, save jobs and restore our freedoms.
“Which is why we need a 24/7 programme bringing vaccinations to every high street in the country.”
Yesterday’s daily death toll hit 1,041 with 62,322 more cases — taking the totals to 77,346 and 2,836,801.
Deaths are likely to rise further as people who caught the virus over the festive season fail to recover.
Yesterday, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said its 11,000 branches could inoculate millions but are not being used.
So far, only those able to vaccinate 1,000 people a week have been enlisted.
Prof Martin Marshall, of the Royal College of GPs, added: “We need to be delivering upwards of two million vaccinations a week. This is a challenging but necessary target.
“Last-minute changes to delivery schedules, as some GPs are reporting, only create confusion among patients and a lot of hard work for practices that need to swiftly adapt their plans, and must be minimised.”
Vulnerable Brits will be able to get the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab from nearly 800 GPs sites from today.
So far it has only been delivered at hospitals. Another 300,000 doses are arriving tomorrow, taking the total sent out this week to 830,000.
It comes as seven huge vaccination centres are due to open next week in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Hertfordshire.
Drive-through vaccination centres will also be made available in the car parks of some Morrisons supermarkets from Monday.
Meanwhile, GPs will be told to prioritise Covid vaccinations over other treatments.
The PM has set a target of vaccinating up to 13 million of the most vulnerable Brits by the middle of February in a bid to ease the draconian lockdown restrictions.
Meanwhile, retired medics volunteering to help have been hit by paperwork.
Dr Fox fumed: “Why have I been required to complete courses on conflict resolution, equality, diversity and human rights, moving and handling loads and preventing radicalisation in order to give a simple jab?”
TV’s Dr Rosemary Leonard, who works as a GP, said vaccine orders have been repeatedly cancelled.
She tweeted: “My group of practices was initially told we would get our first delivery on December 28. Then January 4. Then January 11.
“Now we are ‘Sixth wave’ and it will be the 13th, 14th or 15th January. We are raring to go, but have no vaccines. Why?”
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The NHS needs to reach two million people a week to reach the PM’s goal, but only 300,000 are currently being given out at the moment.
A source said it would take some days before the NHS was delivering jabs in “big numbers”.
A Government spokesman said: “This is the largest vaccination programme in NHS history with complex logistical challenges.
“It is being accelerated every day and vaccinations will be taking place at over 1,000 sites by the end of this week.”
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