The NHS could vaccinate the entire population in five days but is being hampered by bureaucracy, a leading immunologist has claimed.
Sir John Bell, regius chair of medicine at the University of Oxford, said stubborn NHS bureaucrats were standing in the way of a high-speed mass inoculation programme that could prevent many further deaths.
“The NHS has the theoretical capacity to immunise everybody in five days if they want to, but I don’t get the sense they are really motivated,” Bell told the Times.
“Did you see the list of things you have to do to volunteer to help the inoculation programme? To impose it on people who are just sticking a needle in an arm is bonkers.”
A government website states that prospective volunteers need to live in England and be over the age of 18, use a smartphone, consider their own health condition in case they are clinically vulnerable, and be able to “go on duty as much as you possibly can”.
The government should be reacting to Covid-19 as if to an enemy invading the country, Bell said, referencing Israel’s highly successful mass inoculations.
“People have rightly pointed to the Israelis, who have managed to immunise lots of people. You have to view it as if it were a war. The Israelis are good at getting on a war footing – everyone is waiting for the 2am call anyway. Here it is not clear whether it’s a national security issue, but it is. The economic impact is as bad as any war. You might say 100,000 dead is not as bad as a war but it’s still not where you want to be.”
Bell said doctors and nurses should not be blamed for what he regarded as the slow rollout of the vaccine across the NHS.
NHS could vaccinate UK against Covid in five days, says Oxford professor The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ The Guardian.