An RAF veteran who is about to turn 100 says he is still waiting for his Covid vaccination a month after the scheme started, as a Sage adviser calls on Number 10 to make it compulsory for NHS staff to get the jab.
Arthur Clark, a widower and great-grandfather of four said he had been trying to get an appointment since Christmas, leading his local MP to brand the vaccination roll out 'shambolic'.
Speaking to MailOnline from his home in Beckenham, south east London, 99-year-old Mr Clark said: 'It’s very annoying, I thought I’d been lost in the system.' He added: ‘I appreciate it takes a while to get round to everyone, but I would have thought they’d have tried to give people of my age priority.'
The Government is aiming to get the first dose of the vaccine to 13million Britons - all over 70s, care home residents and frontline healthcare workers - by mid-February, before rolling it out to other age groups.
Only 1.5million have received at least one dose so far — meaning there are another 11.5million to dish out in 39 days, or around 300,000 a day.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Boris Johnson yesterday announced he will bring in the Army to bolster the UK's vaccination drive and claimed the NHS will be able to give 200,000 jabs every day by next Friday.
With the administration of vaccines the only light at the end of the tunnel, the Prime Minister yesterday reassured the public there are enough doses available. He also pledged to offer every care home resident a jab by the end of January and announced a new national online booking system that is hoped will be speed up the process.
Ministers are aiming to ramp up vaccinations to a mammoth two million a week, with NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens yesterday praising the UK for its 'strong start' but admitting there will be 'difficulties' and 'bumps along the road' as they scramble to hit the target.
It comes as Professor Michael Parker, on the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), calls for mandatory jabs for NHS staff which could slash the risk of the virus spreading through hospitals, meaning fewer NHS workers would need to self-isolate and fewer patients would catch the disease on the wards.
But, he warned, the programme may be derailed in the early stages because of mounting hospital admissions, with more than 10,000 Covid patients being admitted since Christmas Day - enough to fill 20 hospitals.
The number of doctors and nurses off sick or self-isolating due to the coronavirus has quadrupled since September, leaked NHS England figures reveal. As many as 46,400 doctors and nurses are unable to attend shifts, reports The Independent, which is almost four times as high as the 12,382 reported on September 2.
Arthur Clark, 99, an RAF veteran, says he is yet to receive his Covid vaccination despite the programme starting a month ago
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Speaking to MailOnline from his home in Beckenham, south east London, the great grandfather of four said he had been trying to get an appointment since Christmas. Pictured, left, is Arthur with his family and, right, as an RAF serviceman
Professor Michael Parker suggested it should be made mandatory for frontline NHS staff to get the jab. Above is nurse Sue Toye, 51, being vaccinated at Coventry Health Centre yesterday
The number of doctors off due to the virus has quadrupled since September. Above are Covid-19 absences as a proportion of all absences registered at the NHS since the pandemic began
Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid vaccine appears to be effective against the super-transmissible UK and South African strains of the virus, according to a study by the US drugmaker.
The research – which hasn't been peer reviewed yet – will calm international fears about the new variants, which top experts said had the potential to evade the current wave of jabs.
Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralizing virus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein.
The mutation could be responsible for greater transmissibility and there had been concern it could also make the virus escape antibody neutralization elicited by the vaccine, said Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer's top viral vaccine scientists.
The study was conducted on blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine. Its findings are limited, because it does not look at the full set of mutations found in either of the new variants of the rapidly spreading virus.
Dormitzer said it was encouraging that the vaccine appears effective against the mutation, as well as 15 other mutations the company has previously tested against.
'So we've now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact. That's the good news,' he said. 'That doesn't mean that the 17th won't.'
As Britain prepared to ramp up vaccinations:As many as 100,000 Britons abroad have five days to get home or face being banned without a negative Covid test; Drivers are turned away from England's Beauty spots while police question parents with pushchairs; Welsh lockdown is extended for three more weeks with schools and colleges shut until February; Care home workers with Covid are told to stay in work due to mounting staff shortages; Pfizer's vaccine does work against the South African and UK strains of coronavirus, study finds; National Express suspends all coach services due to new lockdown and plummeting passenger numbers; Stanley Johnson reveals he is due to get his second Covid jab today after getting the first before Christmas;
Mr Clark told MailOnline: ‘Every night on the TV and the radio the government are telling everyone what a great job they’re doing, but it doesn’t feel that way from where I’m sitting.’
Mr Clark, a former RAF airman, served in the Far East during World War Two and witnessed the liberation of Burma in 1945.