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Troops are analyzing how British citizens are being targeted online and are gathering evidence of vaccine disinformation from hostile states, including Russia (Photo: Reuters)
Troops are analyzing how British citizens are being targeted online and are gathering evidence of vaccine disinformation from hostile states, including Russia (Photo: Reuters)

Covid-19 vaccination: UK to deploy army unit against anti-vaccine propaganda

The British government hopes to begin rolling out vaccination program before Christmas if regulators approve the shots in time, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said

A specialist unit of the British Army will be deployed to tackle anti-vaccine propaganda, as Britain prepares to deliver its first injections within days, Sunday Times reported today.

Troops are analyzing how British citizens are being targeted online and are gathering evidence of vaccine disinformation from hostile states, including Russia, according to leaked documents seen by the newspaper.

The British government hopes to begin rolling out vaccination program before Christmas if regulators approve the shots in time, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said.

“We hope, subject to the regulatory approvals, to be in a position to be able to have rolled out the vaccine sufficiently by, say, the spring to enable us to have a big change in the way we approach things," Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and a government adviser, said he would be “surprised" if a vaccine becomes available as soon as next week. An announcement that a vaccine has been approved for use could come within the next two weeks, he said.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing a political backlash over strict new coronavirus rules, Openshaw warned the government not to relax pandemic restrictions too soon. “if we take the brakes off at this stage, just when the end is in sight, I think we’ll be making a huge mistake," he told the BBC.

The UK has spent 80% more fighting coronavirus compared with the average of other G7 leading economies, according to research by the Financial Times. Britain is on course for a 90% deeper decline in economic output in 2020 and almost 60% more deaths.

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