Monday, 11 January 2021

It's time to go Israeli on the virus

I wrote for the Sunday Telegraph about how to roll out the vaccine and end the nightmare.

We cannot afford for the sclerotic NHS and the hopeless Public Health England (PHE) to screw up again. We give 15 million people a flu jab every year. Israel has already vaccinated 60 per cent of its priority groups, despite administering its first jab 11 days after we did. We are not talking about the D-Day landings here, but we should treat it as a military operation none the less.

This is an all-hands-to-the-pump logistical challenge that requires innovative thinking, agility and rapid decision-making, none of which is second nature to the NHS. Army personnel have been brought in by Matt Hancock to assist with the roll‑out. He should go further and involve the Royal Logistics Corps in setting up large, drive-through vaccination centres, as the Israelis have done. While he’s at it he should get the Royal Army Medical Corps to run some of them and the regular infantry to give injections.

Red tape is already being cut, but it needs to be slashed further. It is absurd that retired medics are being turned away for having too few A-levels. Teaching some of the millions of people on furlough how to give an injection would also be a good idea. There is no excuse for understaffing when so many people are being paid to do nothing.

If companies such as Brewdog want to turn their pubs into vaccination centres, the Government should bite their hand off, especially since they have large refrigerators ready for use. There can be no repeat of last spring when PHE reputedly refused to return calls from the private sector.


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