ExCeL and Copper Box could be used as Covid vaccination clinics

The ExCeL centre in London, which has been made into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital to help

The ExCeL was used as a Nightingale Hospital earlier this year to increase capacity for care for coronavirus patients. - Credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

The ExCeL and the Copper Box Arena have been earmarked as potential venues for mass coronavirus vaccination centres.

The two sites - the former used as a Nightingale Hospital earlier in the pandemic - are among venues around the country proposed to be used as clinics now that a Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK.

Sports halls and leisure centres are also among the locations suggested, with hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies put on standby.

It comes after health secretary Matt Hancock announced that the "the end is in sight".

But there are huge logistical challenges behind delivering a vaccine which needs to be stored between minus 70C (minus 94F) and minus 80C (minus 112F).

Work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure that staff are ready to start delivering jabs to the most vulnerable, as well as health and care workers, as a priority.

Months of preparation has gone into arranging the delivery of a vaccine.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at an ultra low temperature until a few days before being delivered to a patient.
It has been suggested that the vaccine vials will be stored in hospitals and wholesalers which have appropriate freezers.
The typical GP practice will not have the facilities to store the vaccine at this temperature.

Vaccine transport has also been taken into consideration - it needs to be transported at sub zero temperatures and handled extremely carefully.

Pfizer's manufacturing site in Puurs, Belgium, is being used for European supply. The vaccine will be delivered by planes - Pfizer has already ruled out ocean transport due to timings.

The company has created special suitcase size containers fitted with temperature and GPS trackers to ship the vaccine.

Once the vaccine supply arrives in the UK it will undergo quality checks to ensure it has been shipped safely.
The vaccine will then be unloaded and moved to storage freezers where it will undergo a further temperature check.

It is believed that at first the rollout will begin in hospital sites with sub-zero freezing capacity.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this morning (Wednesday, December 2) that 50 hospitals across the country are already set up and waiting to receive the vaccine.

Meanwhile officials have also taken into consideration other factors such as personal protective equipment for staff delivering vaccines.

People will be offered vaccination appointments - they shouldn't immediately call their GP requesting a jab.