Boris Johnson has appointed Nadhim Zahawi as the health minister responsible for the deployment of the coronavirus vaccine, Downing Street has announced.
Downing Street said in a statement, “The Queen welcomes the appointment of Nadhim Zahawi MP as Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Department of Health and Social Care.
“He will remain a Parliamentary Under Secretary in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.”
Mr Zahawi will focus on the use of the coronavirus vaccine, with the temporary arrangement lasting until at least next summer.
Hospitals must prepare for the introduction of a Covid-19 vaccine in England in just 10 days.
NHS personnel will be the first to receive the injection.
The vaccine, produced by Pfizer / BioNTech, could be delivered to hospitals as early as Monday, December 7. reports the Mirror.
This exact date is subject to timely approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
An NHS source told the Mirror: “We expect it within the next two weeks, they’ve identified how much is coming and where.
“They are currently figuring out how to get it to staff within five days.”
Residents of nursing homes and people 80 and older will have to wait, news that angered heads of the healthcare industry like nursing home residents and the over-80s was previously identified as the top priority by the government.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Vaccination (JCVI) said in September that the elderly in nursing homes and staff should be prioritized.
But since the vaccine can only be extracted from minus 70C four times between leaving the factory where it is made in Belgium and injecting it into a patient’s arm, NHS personnel are thought to be the logical choice for firsts.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer shot with an expected 10 million doses by the end of the year.
There are also 100 million doses of a vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University on order, where low temperatures are not required.
The Oxford vaccine is also currently at the MHRA for approval.
The priority list for those getting the vaccine has been updated – so those with certain serious conditions are now over 60.
This also applies to people with morbid obesity, people with certain cancers and people with Down syndrome.