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COVID-19 UK: Military carry out dry run for Britain's biggest-ever vaccination programme

The full list of hospitals where Pfizer jabs will be given to the first British recipients were revealed last night as the UK military carried out dry-run drills for the country's biggest-ever mass vaccination.

Fifty trusts are poised to roll out Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine when the first of 40 million doses are administered from next week, with 13 in the Midlands, eight are in the North West, South East and South West, seven are in the East of England and London, and only one in each of Yorkshire and the North East regions.

The Army held a trial run at one of the first mass vaccination sites where tens of thousands of patients will be immunised after NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens told a Downing street press conference yesterday that the logistics of getting the vaccine out to people will be 'complicated'.

Care homes were told they will have to wait because the stock can't be broken down into batches smaller than 975 at a time. The vaccine, which must be kept at -70°C (-94°F) until shortly before it is used, means storage must meticulously controlled for the entire distribution and storage process.

Such stringent requirements mean hospitals equipped with ultra-cold freezers have been called upon to act as 'hubs' where the first people will receive jabs.

The drill, code-named Exercise Panacea, took place at Ashton Gate football and rugby stadium in Bristol. Approximately seven regional hubs will be used to vaccinate the wider population as GP surgeries target at-risk patients and hospitals are used to immunise NHS and care home staff, as well as some patients.

The Government and NHS will have to get extra permission from the MHRA to break the vaccine supplies down into smaller batches that could then be handed out to care homes to give to their residents. It is not yet clear how long this might take, but Sir Simon said most of the vaccinations would be given out in 2021, not this year.

In yesterday's exercise 30 staff and volunteers were looped through the building pretending to be different types of patients, from one suffering an adverse reaction to one with symptoms or one who won't get the jab.

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