The arms race: New head of Army vaccine taskforce says jabs should be 'in arms, not on shelves' as he vows to use 'wartime' tactics to make sure it is supplied ANYWHERE in England

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The British Army officer leading Boris Johnson's effort to deliver hundreds of thousands of coronavirus vaccines per day pledged to use combat techniques to get them to the needy as fast as possible. 

Brigadier Phil Prosser, Commander of Military Support to the Vaccine Delivery Programme, said his team would use 'our extensive operational and logistic experience' to deliver vital supplies across the UK. 

The commander of the British Army's 101 Logistic Brigade will lead soldiers distributing the drugs across the country in a bid to get the lockdown eased as soon as possible.

He joined Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference tonight after Britain recorded 1,162 coronavirus deaths in the second worst day of the entire pandemic.

The Prime Minister used the televised event to claim the NHS will be able to give 200,000 jabs every day by next Friday as part of ambitious lockdown-ending plans. 

Brig Prosser, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, said: '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.'

He also revealed that there are  21 'vaccine quick reaction force' containing military medics 'able to deploy anywhere in England at short notice' if there are problems with keeping up the rate of immunisations.

Brigadier Phil Prosser, Commander of Military Support to the Vaccine Delivery Programme, said his team would use 'our extensive operational and logistic experience' to deliver vital supplies across the UK.

The commander of the British Army's 101 Logistic Brigade joined Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference tonight after Britain recorded 1,162 coronavirus deaths

It is not the first time Brig Prosser's unit has been brought in to help with the pandemic. The Aldershot-based brigade, which includes logistical, engineering and medical units, was called in to help distribute PPE like gloves, masks and gowns to NHS hospitals in March.

The 101 is known as the Iron Viper because its main war function is supporting the 3rd Division, known as the 'Iron Division, which is the Army's 'high readiness' force

Brigadier Phil Prosser, the commander of the 101 Logistic Brigade (pictured in Downing Street today) , will lead soldiers distributing the drugs across the country in a bid to get the lockdown eased as soon as possible.

Iron Viper leader who served in Iraq 

The army officer put in charge of speeding up Boris Johnson's sluggish vaccination programme is an Afghanistan and Iraq veteran 'crisis management' expert who leads a unit known as the 'Iron Viper'.

Brigadier Phil Prosser, the commander of the 101 Logistic Brigade, will lead soldiers distributing the drugs across the country in a bid to get the lockdown eased as soon as possible.

 

The married Welshman joined Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference tonight.

It is not the first time Brig Prosser's unit has been brought in to help with the pandemic. 

The Aldershot-based brigade, which includes logistical, engineering and medical units, was called in to help distribute PPE like gloves, masks and gowns to NHS hospitals in March.

Brig Prosser trained as a mechanical engineer and studied at Cranfield University before taking an MBA at the Open University. He previously served in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).

According to his LinkedIn page is is an 'experienced leader' who is skilled in crisis management, data analysis (and) risk'. 

He is also a keen cyclist and describes himself as a 'retired runner' as well as a fan of the Scarlets rugby team, based in his native Llanelli.

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With the roll-out of vaccines the only light at the end of the tunnel, the Prime Minister today reassured the public there are enough doses available to get all the top priority groups immunised by mid-February. 

He also pledged to offer every care home resident a jab by the end of January and announced a new national online booking system that is hoped will be speed up the process.

Department of Health data shows only April 21 — in the midst of the first wave — had a worse death toll than today, when 1,224 victims were declared.

Experts fear the daily number of Covid deaths may rise further, because of the spiralling number of infections in the community. But in a slight glimmer of hope, cases dropped compared to last week as health bosses posted 52,618 infections — down 6 per cent from the same time last week.

Ministry of Defence chiefs were instructed to devise the plans to hit the Prime Minister's lofty target of vaccinating 13million — including over-70s, care home residents, NHS staff and extremely vulnerable adults of all ages — and ending lockdown by mid-February.

The NHS operation, considered the biggest vaccination drive in British history, will involve more than 100 soldiers next week with almost 1,500 reserve troops on standby.

So far the UK's vaccination scheme has been plagued by supply and staffing shortages, logistical problems and bureaucratic barriers that have strangled its scale-up. It has meant that only 1.3million Brits across the UK have had the jab since it launched a month ago.

Figures today showed that the NHS in England has now managed to inoculate almost 1.1million people since the mass immunisation drive began. The programme saw more than 300,000 doses dished out in the final week of the Pfizer-only plan, up 27 per cent in a week.

Ministry of Defence chiefs were instructed to devise plans to distribute the vaccines evenly to the most vulnerable within the PM's target of immunising them by mid-February. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last week said there were 250 six-man teams 'standing ready' to deliver 100,000 doses a day, if there was a request for more boots on the ground support from the Army. 

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Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' hospital on March 24

Brigadier Prosser told today's press conference: '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 major supermarket chain in less than a month, and next week we will further increase our footprint by another 20 per cent.'

As many as seven mass vaccination centres are set to open in England to aide the roll-out, set up in locations including sports stadiums and London's ExCeL centre. But critics have warned the target is over-ambitious and said the Prime Minister should not make promises he won't be able to meet.

It emerged last night that guidance had been sent to doctors explaining the jabs should be their 'top priority' - with other 'non-essential' activities postponed, potentially for weeks. NHS England has already advised surgeries to focus on the delivery of the vaccine by prioritising jab appointments over anything else.