Keir Starmer warns ‘mammoth’ coronavirus vaccine efforts will require WWII-like plan

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The Labour leader wrote a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to publish a coronavirus vaccine plan. He said: “The challenge facing the country now is not just how we get control of the virus, but how we get ready for the vaccine.

“We are world leaders in vaccines, and I believe we should be aiming for a world class programme for rolling it out.

“However, this will be a mammoth logistical operation, probably larger than we have seen since the Second World War.

“If we are to get it right, then we must have a clear plan in place now.”

He added: “The Government has been too slow to act throughout this pandemic – too slow into lockdown, too slow on testing, too slow getting equipment to frontline workers and too slow to protect our care homes.

“We have to be honest that failing to act quickly enough has come at a human and economic cost.

“That cannot be allowed to happen with the vaccine.

“The Government must be quick, decisive and effective so we can give the British people the security that they need.”

Sir Keir said Labour called for the Government to specify what criteria would be used to decide who could access the vaccine and when.

He added that Labour demanded “equitable access to the vaccine no matter where you live”.

The Labour leader added that the Government should “consider supporting councils and local NHS services to refurbish community assets, such as town halls or sport centres, into local vaccine clinics” as part of such a scheme.

Sir Keir’s letter comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that rolling out the new jab nationwide will be “incredibly difficult”.

During an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday evening, Mr Hancock was questioned by Question Time host Fiona Bruce on the deployment of the vaccine.

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Ms Bruce asked: “This is complicated isn’t it because you need these super freezers, that keep it at minus 70 degrees.

“The Scottish Government has already brought some of these super freezers.

“Are you going to be able to pull this off?”

Mr Hancock said: “Yes. The UK Government is buying this vaccine and the other vaccines, and it’s important in our portfolio we have several, and we’re buying them for the whole UK.

“Then the NHS in each country; in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is responsible for the deployment. It is a challenge; it is incredibly difficult.”

Last Monday pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said preliminary trials show the vaccine they have been developing with BioNTech successfully protects 90 percent of people from catching coronavirus.

Pfizer said they hoped to make 50 million doses of their vaccine available this year and 1.3 billion next year.

The British Government has secured 20 million of the first round of doses.

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