Hospitality venues could put their refrigeration assets and premises to use in the national effort to fight Covid-19 by becoming “vaccination stations”, it has been suggested.
Earlier today, 82-year-old Brian Pinker became the first person to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.
Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be kept in specialist refrigeration units at -70°C, the Oxford-AstraZeneca version can be stored at regular fridge temperatures.
Pub chain BrewDog has already offered its help, with chief executive James Watt tweeting to health secretary Matt Hancock and Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon that its refrigeration equipment is available if needed.
“We would like to offer our closed BrewDog venues to help with a quick roll-out of the vaccine. For free. We have waiting areas, huge refrigerators, separate rooms for vaccinations and an ace team who can help organise. We want to help.”
Loungers chairman and co-founder Alex Reilley, made a similar pledge. He said the company had a “significant” number of sites in areas listed without a vaccine hub that could assist, including Newark, Bedford, Aylesbury, Nuneaton and Mansfield.
“We have large venues and extensive refrigeration – we’re here to help,” he tweeted.
Earlier, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls – who was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honour List – said that hospitality “stands ready to help” in the vaccination effort.
She said: “We have large empty hotels in rural and town centre locations which are Covid-secure (they housed and fed frontline workers and convalescent patients), with trained first aiders and plenty of fridges. We can be vaccination stations.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson said today there will be a “massive ramp-up” in vaccination numbers “in the weeks ahead”, promising “tens of millions” of does by the end of March”.
Asked when the government will be able to vaccinate two million people a week – the number said to be needed to prevent a third wave in the UK – Mr Johnson said more details would be given “in the next few days… as soon as we have better numbers to give”.