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Highlands and Islands MSP calls for Armed services to help deliver coronavirus vaccine in Highlands

By Val Sweeney

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Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain.

A call has been made for the Armed services to be called in to help deliver a coronavirus vaccine across the Highlands.

Highlands and Islands conservative MSP Edward Mountain made the call following yesterday's announcement that preliminary tests on a new vaccine show it can prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting the virus.

It has been developed by Pfizer and BioNTech who described it as a "great day for science and humanity" while leaders worldwide welcomed the development.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

It is expected Inverness would get a dedicated mass-immunisation centre as part of a Scotland-wide plan to distribute vaccinations.

But Mr Mountain is also calling for the Armed services to help coordinate and deliver the vaccine across more rural parts of the region.

"This is the news we’ve all been waiting to hear," he said.

"Even if the vaccine was only 50 per cent effective it would be a massive step forward to returning to some sense of normality.

"They are saying it is 90 per cent effective which is a game changer.

"It is absolutely right that Inverness should have a vaccination centre but we also need rural vaccinating teams to deliver it across the Highlands.

"I would call upon the Armed services to help coordinate and deliver this service."

Scottish Labour health and social care spokeswoman Monica Lennon also welcomed yesterday's announcement and said support was needed to ensure the vaccine reached every area in Scotland.

"This is very positive and encouraging news, and something we should all welcome," she said.

"The Scottish Government must ensure that our health boards stand ready to receive and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available, and avoid the chaos that has plagued the flu vaccination programme.

"We need a robust delivery plan for the Covid-19 vaccine in the national interest, including identifying priority patients, sufficient cold storage facilities and enough staff to administer the vaccine.

"The NHS is under tremendous strain and will need all available support to ensure every area of Scotland can be reached, including access to rural areas and the use of mobile units when needed.”

The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is one of 11 vaccines which are currently in the final stages of testing but it is the first to show any results.

It has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

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