Tesco and Boots are due to help the government distribute the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine across the UK.
The UK’s largest supermarket Tesco has offered the help of its country-spanning distribution company Best Food Logistics to aid the roll out of the vital COVID-19 vaccine as cases continue to skyrocket and millions more face new lockdown restrictions.
Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be stored at -70C, the recently approved Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can survive at warmer temperatures meaning it can safely be transported in Tesco’s refrigerated food trucks.
Meanwhile Boots is preparing to open three COVID-19 vaccination sites in Halifax, Huddersfield and Gloucester in conjunction with local GP-run clinical commissioning groups, with plans to open more in the coming weeks.
“Boots has extensive knowledge and experience of mass vaccination having completed over a million flu vaccinations last year, and we have developed a model for Covid-19 vaccination that is aligned with our exceptional safety, clinical and operational standards,” a spokesperson told PA Media.
“We stand ready to do much more and our national network of pharmacy expertise is prepped to support the NHS and the government to accelerate the rollout of the vaccine.”
According to prime minister Boris Johnson there should be 540 GP vaccination sites and 101 hospital sites set up by today to administer both iterations of the vaccine.
Around 1 million people have already received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, though the follow up dose will now be administered within 12 weeks, rather than the 21 days originally planned.
It comes as the UK’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty warned that vaccine shortages were a “reality that cannot be wished away”.
“We have to ensure that we maximise the number of eligible people who receive the vaccine,” he said in a joint statement.
“Currently the main barrier to this is vaccine availability, a global issue, and this will remain the case for several months and, importantly, through the critical winter period.”
COVID-19 cases are continuing to skyrocket across the UK, seeing just under 55,000 new cases reported yesterday alone, making the rapid roll-out of the vaccine even more important.