by Jonathon Kitson
Wednesday, 30
December 2020
Idea
08:30

How the UK can speed up the vaccine rollout

The Government can’t afford to get the supply and delivery wrong
by Jonathon Kitson
Military logistics experts should optimise vaccine supply chains, just as they did during the NHS PPE crisis

Mass vaccination is our way out of the utter misery of the coronavirus pandemic. The Actuaries Response Group calculates it takes as few as 20 vaccinations to save one UK care home resident from dying of coronavirus. Vaccinations also prevent people getting seriously ill and needing to go to hospital. Once Covid patients aren’t overwhelming hospitals across the developed world, the economy and all our personal liberties can start going back to normal.

The UK had a head start with mass vaccination thanks to quick work by our healthcare regulator, but quickly surrendered its lead to Israel. Our current vaccination rate is 200,000 people every week, and ministers are hoping to increase this to 1 million per week in the New Year.

However, modelling by the LSHTM shows that the vaccination rate needs to be at least twice this to avoid the healthcare system being overwhelmed by the new mutant virus in January. Even 1 million vaccinations per week in a country the size of the UK simply isn’t fast enough. We need to speed up.

On top of the lives lost to coronavirus and the chaos it causes in our healthcare systems, the economic costs are staggering. Over £300 billion has been spent by the government on extra Covid related costs: and by April this expected to approach £400 billion. Even more importantly, economic output has been drastically reduced by lockdowns and people’s fear of catching the virus. As Robert Peston has pointed out, almost any amount of money spent on ending this crisis by mass vaccination will be minimal, compared to these ongoing costs.

So, the UK government’s plan for rolling out vaccines in the first four months is not going to be fast enough to prevent hospital chaos, but we can afford to spend almost any amount of money if we get the economy back to normal faster. To get this right, the government needs to focus hard on vaccine supply and vaccine delivery.

The Oxford vaccine was authorised this morning, and it has been designed to be quick and cheap to manufacture. However, Bloomberg reported in November that only a fifth of the vaccine produced could actually be shipped due to the difficulty of manufacturing suitable glass vials. Incredibly, this means our whole economy is being put on hold due to a single manufacturing problem. A solution as simple as putting multiple doses in one vial needs to be considered urgently.

Finally, the government needs to speed up delivery. GP surgeries could easily be paid up to ten times more than the £12.58 planned to pay staff extra and open seven days a week in January. While civilian volunteer vaccinators are being trained, military medical staff could deploy to set up and run emergency vaccination hubs. Military logistics experts should optimise vaccine supply chains, just as they did during the NHS PPE crisis earlier this year.

The end of this crisis is now within reach, and every day of lockdowns and hospital chaos will be avoidable as soon as vaccine supply and delivery is working properly. The government can’t afford to get this wrong.

Jonathon Kitson is an independent researcher and forecaster. He has written on defence procurement, forecasting and vaccination strategy. He tweets @KitsonJ1

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Joe Blow
Joe Blow
1 year ago

The entire organisation of the vaccine administration program should be handed to the military. All the BS regulations about sensitivity and diversity training suspended.

The sole goal should be to get people in and vaccinated. The NHS is demonstrably incompetent It cannot plan even plan for foreseeable things, let alone the unexpected.

This is too important to be left to the suits, ‘heroes’ and ‘angels’ of the NHS.

Chris Jayne
Chris Jayne
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

It shouldn’t be left to the NHS. But it also should not be given to the military.

The challenge will be quickly accessing the vulnerable – the elderly, the mentally and physically disabled, and those with other comorbidities. Within this group there are going to be people too ill to travel, people who don’t understand what’s going on, people who don’t want anything to do with it, etc etc. A huge number of these live in the community.

The easy to reach people who can travel and have understand what the letter means and requires from them will be very easy to vaccinate. The others will be incredibly difficult to vaccinate and require a whole host of health and social care providers plus other government bodies to come together to reach.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Jayne

The others will be incredibly difficult to vaccinate and require a whole host of health and social care providers plus other government bodies to come together to reach.

That sentence is exactly why Joe has suggested “This is too important to be left to the suits, ‘heroes’ and ‘angels’ of the NHS.”

Physically the vaccination will be the same for everyone:
1. find person (best let them come to you)
2. roll up person’s sleeve
3. stick needle in and press plunger

What’s “incredibly difficult” about that?

blanes
blanes
1 year ago

You would know if they let an air bubble in it. They have been advertising for trained and semi trained people to give these injections. My sister was offered a post at #350 per day. I saw the email offering her this post, Of course she said no, she didn’t want to be involved in this scam. She will stick to being a care worker.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago
Reply to  blanes

I’m diabetic. I inject myself several times a day with insulin. OK its a subcutaneous injection. Does the vaccine have to be injected into a vein?

Adrian
Adrian
1 year ago

You should become a brain surgeon, it’s really easy

1. Chop head off
2. Scoop the bad stuff out
3. Glue head back on again

How hard can it be?

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago
Reply to  Adrian

I love it. However:

1. you’ve missed out several steps
2. what you’re describing is called execution not brain surgery.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

The issue of getting vaccines to people with significant mobility difficulties, dementia or other medical problems not a trivial one. At the moment it is being carried out in huge halls. There seems to be absolutely no talk of bringing vaccines to peoples’ homes. This would be ideal in some cases, though clearly not logistically possible for the whole population.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Agreed which is exactly why the military (or possibly Amazon since thay have tremendous logistical experience) should be involved.

Delivering the injections is not a medical problem – its a logistical one.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
1 year ago

Except it is, at least it requires a modicum of medical training. Probably training more people up in this skills fast would be a good use of resources though.

This injection needs to be delivered intramuscularly, any error and you will end up injecting it into the subcutaneous tissue reducing its effectiveness.

It needs to be either injected into the deltoid muscle, or secondarily when this is not possible the vastus lateralis neither of which are easily reachable to a person self-injecting.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Jayne

I am not suggesting excluding the NHS. I am suggesting giving the military the job of coordinating it, and instructing all the second-guessers and jobsworths what to do. And making it clear that the NHS staff working on the vaccine program report directly to the military.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

The initial track and trace app was produced by the military. The first trial was done on an RAF base, before the larger scale trial on IoW which basically flopped.

The military has presided over many of its own disasters, often thanks to being misdirected by politicians.

The call to bring in the military is not a call for omnipotent saviours but is an admission that the civil authorities, who consume vast amounts of tax payer cash, could not organise a piss up in a brewery. The military however does at least organise good piss ups.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
1 year ago

Ivermectin and COVID-19
you tube watch?v=u21N8Vu4kOk
Christy Risinger, MD

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

As we all know, there is no money for Bill Gates and Astra Zeneca etc in Ivermectin because it’s an existing drug. That said, my understanding is that the various vaccines do not prevent you from getting Covid. Nor do they prevent you from spreading it. So we will still be needing the Ivermectin.

Gwynneth Coan
Gwynneth Coan
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Take nothing. What the hell is in these things?

Anakei greencloudnz
Anakei greencloudnz
1 year ago

Why vaccinate 20 people to save 1 care home resident? Vaccinate the care home resident and save20 vaccines

Adrian
Adrian
1 year ago

Sure, the military can magic glass vials and the factories to produce them out of thin air. I mean, I can’t think why there might be a global shortage of glass vials at the moment.

We could send our army over to China, Russia and the US and demand they give us all the vials they have been hoarding. Gotta show those Wall Street speculators, hoarding glass vials to push up the price!

Or perhaps the boy scouts could collect jam jars and we could put the vaccines in those.

You gotta love journalists. People who truly don’t understand the meaning of the phrase ‘easier said than done’.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Surely the plan is to prioritise the vaccines for those likely to get seriously ill with covid, (and thereby end up in hospital) who are a small minority of the population.

Jonathan Barker
Jonathan Barker
1 year ago

But of course the question still remains as to whether these quickly produced vaccines do actually work. And, more importantly are they safe – it is of course almost impossible for the ordinary person to know.
That having been said please find a unique and very comprehensive and quite disturbing assessment of the situation via an essay by Thomas Cowan titled Covid Vaccines Are Medical Experiments on Humanity

Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
1 year ago

Anyone who thinks this ending anytime soon with vaccines is utterly deluded and has fallen for every promise since the infamous 3 weeks to flatten the curve. It won’t take long, sometime between now and Easter there will be yet another “need” for further lockdowns, more masking and newer vaccines. What I would love to know is how many times do politicians have to state some “solution” that doesn’t work followed by more solutions before people think “This is utter BS”.

blanes
blanes
1 year ago
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
1 year ago

Design a Vaccine grown on Plasma or Blood, Like Millions i am allergic to Albumin based ones…

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

The article says that “A solution as simple as putting multiple doses in one vial needs to be considered urgently.” AstraZeneca’s vaccine vials contain 10 doses and Pfizer’s vials contain 5 or 6 doses. Putting more doses in a vial is not always beneficial because it leads to increased wastage. Once the vial has been opened, the vaccine has a fridge life of a few hours, after which the remaining doses in the opened vials must be discarded. For GP-led vaccination teams with a low throughput, this can make it hard to keep within the wastage target of 5%in England. A larger number of doses per vial would mean that, on average, more gets discarded in expired vials.

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
1 year ago

I mean…, having Tom Chivers on board on this platform is already quite an ordeal but this Kitson is an even greater pain in the *…The effect of any corona-vaccine is heavily overrated because the people they’re trying to save with it are almost dead. If you are lucky the vaccine will do the same as the vaccines against inluenza, which is close to nothing when you are aiming at a period of let’ say more than 2 years of extra life expectancy