Though the nation is about to endure another national lockdown, with no clear end date, there is one hope – the vaccine. However, the current rate of inoculation is not good enough. For effective mass vaccination we should look at Israel's impressive road to recovery, writes Noel Yaxley. 

No doubt you all remember the pictures. On December 8th, a rather telegenic nonagenarian woman named Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Covid vaccine. Praise must go to Boris Johnson for pushing to be the first country in the world to approve and authorise a coronavirus vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine was a victory for British scientific innovation and the free-market. In spite of it's flaws, capitalism remains the best system for solving problems.

By December 27th, 944,539 people had received the first of the two injections required.  The second follow-up shot is given three weeks later. The Pfizer vaccine (which needs to be stored at minus 70) claims to be 95 per cent effective once the second shot is administered.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, believes life will return to normal – whatever that is now – by Easter as long as two million doses a week are administered. But, even at two million a week, it'll take more than six months to inoculate the entire population – and that's just for the first dose. Currently around 300,000 vaccinations are happening on a weekly basis.

According to analysis by The Sunday Times, almost one in four people in England live in an area that does not have a vaccination centre. In total, 118 constituencies have no immunisation hub for the vaccine. 13 million people live in a constituency without a hospital. Even in cities that do, such as Nottingham only one site exists that can supply the vaccine for it's 335,000 residents – the Queen's Medical Centre. Large towns, such as Braintree – with an infection rate twice the national average – have no immunisation sites ready. The closest they have is Danbury GP practice, 11 miles away. London – which has the highest weekly coronavirus rate – has the fewest sites per person. Just eight sites per one million people.

The lack of available vaccination sites means the poorest and most vulnerable people will face severe problems getting the vaccine. Of the 697 vaccine centres in England, 8 million people face a journey of at least ten miles to get to a site.

There are 25 million people in the priority group. This includes the over-50's, frontline health staff, care-home residents and those with pre-existing health conditions. This would leave younger adults waiting until 2022 for the vaccination. This is the conclusion from the National Audit Office (NAO).

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The NAO report also reveals that GP capacity will not suffice, and an additional 46,000 staff may be required.

One solution is to 're-hire' retired NHS workers. 40,000 medics applied to become a 'voluntary vaccinator'. But these medically qualified people are facing an insurmountable pile of red tape and bureaucracy. In order to administer a Covid jab, 21 pieces of evidence are required. Due to being put-off by a mass of paperwork, just 5,000 have managed to sign up.

If we are going to become efficient at administering the vaccine, we need to look to other countries who have started on the road to recovery.

Israel purchased eight million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in November and started vaccinating their 9 million population two weeks later than the United Kingdom. Their goal was to immunise 150,000 a day, starting with the over 60's and medical staff. They have now managed to vaccinate 11 per cent of their country, whilst the U.K has managed 1.5 per cent. Even when you factor in the population, Israel has managed to vaccinate eight times more per capita than the U.K. They have done this by utilising the logistical might of the army to store the vaccine in huge, refrigerated lorries. Also, the under 60's have been given any leftover vaccines after the priority cases.

Israel has suffered massively from Covid. In September the country had the highest infection rate in the world. There also happens to be an election soon in Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu's governing Likud party no doubt wants to portray him as the man who saved Israel.

NAO also reports that the mass vaccination of the United Kingdom will cost £12 billion. With lockdown costing £1 billion a day, time isn't on our side. We must be more efficient. Libertarians have often been castigated and demonised for their vocal criticism towards the restriction placed on civil liberties brought on by the coronavirus. Surely, the removal of red-tape will not only help the economy recover faster, but also save lives.

Can we not all agree that's a good thing?

9 votes

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