Liverpool: Now the UK government is planning the first mass vaccination in Europe


P.aul Rogan has experience with delicate operations. As a member of the Royal Marines, he trained Afghan police officers in Kabul. In the Liverpool Police Department, Rogan specialized in special operations. The 59-year-old is now in charge of running the Covid-19 mass testing in his hometown on the River Mersey.

“And I assume that in the near future we will also carry out vaccinations in addition to Covid tests,” Rogan says, pointing to the huge exhibition hall of the Liverpool Exhibition Center. Within two weeks, more than 130,000 asymptomatic citizens were examined in 16 testing centers. After Slovakia, Beatles City is the first major mass test pilot project in Europe.

The UK could soon become the site of the first mass vaccinations in all of Europe. On Wednesday, the national drug regulatory agency MHRA announced that the vaccine developed by Biontech and Pfizer was approved immediately. Boris Johnson’s government is now planning to create up to 1,000 vaccination centers nationwide.

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The first of 800,000 doses of the vaccine will be distributed in hospitals as early as next week. As a first step, residents of retirement homes and their caregivers, as well as clinic staff, should be on the move. This is followed by people over 80 and people with previous serious illnesses. The state-run health care provider NHS has been planning for weeks to equip general practices and vaccination centers for twelve-hour shifts. The government has pre-ordered 350 million doses from various suppliers and intends to vaccinate 50 of its 66 million citizens in the long term.

“We have the logistics for this. No problem, “says former military Rogan. The Liverpool pilot demonstrated how efficient the British health system can be when on a special mission. In the first phase of mass testing, the British military made sure everything was fine. better.

Young soldiers in combat suits transported tons of protective equipment, partitions, tables and test materials to community centers and exhibition halls selected for the pilot project. The military went through the whole process, from registering volunteers to checking the spots.

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The “Scousers”, as the people of Liverpool are called, were lined up on the first day. Liverpool FC’s German manager Jürgen Klopp also took part. “Regular tests have kept the Premier League alive. Let’s do it together. Let’s do it for Liverpool, ”he appealed to superstar Klopp to the population via social media.

Liverpool employee Rachel Moore also had a tampon in the Exhibition Center, where she works as an events manager. “I went right away with my family, even multiple times,” says Moore. “This is a small price to pay to finally get us out of the way.”

Corona test in the pub

Corona test in the pub “The Kop”: the soldiers of the Royal Artillery help


Few cities in England have been blocked for as long as Liverpool. In early October, Premier Johnson imposed “Tier 3 restrictions”, the toughest form. Only the shops essential for everyday life could continue to open, the entire hospitality sector had to close.

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Tens of thousands of students, a major source of income for Liverpool, were relegated to their dorms and limited almost entirely to online classes. Harsh penalties for a city that breathes and thrives on nightlife and entertainment. But the radical cure worked. If at the end of September the number of new infections was 700 per 100,000 inhabitants, two months later it dropped below 100.

The lockout ended on Wednesday of this week. Liverpool have now entered phase two. In the shopping streets in the city center, there was almost a holiday atmosphere under the rare sun. Street musicians played John Lennon songs in the cold winter air. A painful reminder that the heart of the city, the music scene, has stopped since spring.

The fact that the end of the second national blockade coincides with the approval of a vaccine gives the nation hope for the end of the pandemic. But those responsible in Liverpool are exercising caution. “Mass testing has shown that there are some hurdles to overcome. Especially in terms of public confidence, ”said Paul Brant, councilor for public health.

Fear of a positive test

While many fairly well-paid “Scousers”, ie Liverpool residents, volunteered to take part in the mass testing, the participation of people in socially disadvantaged districts was only 4%. Since the start of the corona pandemic, the city with its 500,000 inhabitants has received 68,000 new requests for social assistance. Brant suspects that those who still have a job given the fatal situation on the job market do not want to lose it because they should stay at home after a positive test. “And the nearly 110 euros a week that the government is offering for this case is simply not enough.”

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According to Brant, even citizens from socially disadvantaged backgrounds will be difficult to convince of vaccinations. “It is extremely important to reach people who generally have little faith in the state or who cling to conspiracy theories.” The city council is therefore also evaluating the successful recipe of using famous disc jockeys or celebrities such as Jürgen Klopp as ambassadors for its vaccination campaign.

Labor politician Brant can even imagine that vaccination will become a condition for participation in public life. “There are countries that are not allowed to enter without a yellow fever vaccination. Nobody sees it as a limitation of civil rights. The ethical argument in favor of some sort of vaccination card is compelling for Brant. “If you don’t get vaccinated, you’re not only at risk for yourself, but for others as well.”

Popular places under the radiators

At “Maray” restaurant on Albert Dock on the River Mersey, Tom Brown wants his vaccination to begin, with or without ID. “The hospitality industry in Liverpool had a tough time. Many will not be able to make it to the end of the pandemic. “Thanks to short-time work, Brown was able to keep his 50 employees busy.

He has just built six pavilions with radiant heaters in front of the restaurant, which are full every night. According to the Corona regulation, up to six people from different families can eat together when out. “In Liverpool we always find a way out of the crisis together. This is the spirit of the city. That’s why mass vaccination will be as successful as mass testing. “


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