Military will be involved in distributing coronavirus vaccine, Matt Hancock says

Imogen Braddick
·3-min read

The military will be involved in the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, Matt Hancock has said, as he confirmed the NHS Covid-19 app had been downloaded 15 million times.

Speaking at the virtual Conservative Party conference, the Health Secretary said a Covid-19 vaccine was the "great hope".

Reiterating Boris Johnson's comments about the "bumpy months ahead", Mr Hancock said the nation was "working as hard as we can to get a vaccine as fast as is safely possible".

"The plans are in train," he told the conference.

"A combination of the NHS and the armed forces are involved in the logistics of making this happen, making the rollout happen.

"Because it’s not just about developing the vaccine and then testing the vaccine – which is what’s happening now – it’s then a matter of rolling out the vaccine according to priority, according to clinical need.

"We have set out the order in which people will get it, we have set that out in draft pending the final clinical data."

Mr Hancock also said the NHS coronavirus app had now been downloaded 15 million times.

"It’s gone off the shelf like hotcakes, like digital hotcakes," he said.

The app was finally launched in September, having originally been promised by Mr Hancock for mid-May.

Earlier on Sunday, the Prime Minister said it is "going to continue to be bumpy through to Christmas, it may even be bumpy beyond".

Mr Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I appreciate the fatigue that people are experiencing… but we have to work together, follow the guidance and get the virus down whilst keeping the economy moving.”

Andrew Marr interrupted and said "people are exhausted, they’re furious," and Mr Johnson replied: "They’re furious at me and they’re furious with the Government, but… I’ve got to tell you in all candour it’s going to continue to be bumpy through to Christmas, it may even be bumpy beyond.

"But this is the only way to do it."

Mr Johnson said the coronavirus situation would look "radically different" come the spring.

“If you talk to the scientists they’re all virtually unanimous that by the spring things will be radically different and we’ll be in a different world because that is the normal cycle of a pandemic like this," he told the show.

"But I also think, if you look at where we are, so many things are better."

Mr Johnson said new treatments were now available, adding: "We will find all sorts of ways, I’m absolutely sure, particularly through mass testing programmes, of changing the way that we tackle this virus."

But the Prime Minister was careful to add that he does not "want to get people’s hopes up on the vaccine unnecessarily”.

"It’s possible that we will make significant progress on the vaccine this year," he said.

"I went to see the scientists at AstraZeneca in Oxford and those teams and they seem to be doing fantastically well.

"But I don’t want to get people’s hopes up on the vaccine unnecessarily because I think there is a chance but it is not certain."

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