The military’s response to COVID-19 (update)

The military is doing everything it can to protect its troops and the nation in the fight against Coronavirus.

The military’s response to COVID-19 is ongoing, and defence bodies are ensuring that every measure is being taken to ensure its personnel are protected from the virus.

Military updates have been a key part of the UK Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, with the UK’s most senior military official, Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter, updating the nation on what the armed services and defence sector are doing to support the country’s response to COVID-19.

We review the steps defence organisations have taken during the pandemic below.


Support for the NHS

During the 2020 budget announcement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, promised that the NHS will receive “whatever it needs” to cope with the challenges of COVID-19. Funding was allocated to additional research and staffing, on top of the £6 billion of new funding to provide 50,000 more nurses and 40 new hospitals.

The military has been heavily involved in the building of Nightingale hospitals across the country. During one of the briefings Gen. Carter described how the Armed Forces have brought their logistic experience to the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS, to support them during this time:

“I would say that in all my more than 40 years of service this is the single greatest logistic challenge that I’ve come across,” he said. “I’ll just give you a scale of the problem; in the 25 days since we’ve started working together with the NHS, they’ve gone from some 240 customers they deliver to normally to nearly 50,000 customers. This has involved creating 260,000ft of distribution warehouse space – that’s nearly four football fields’ worth – and some 38 additional delivery routes per day. That’s the equivalent to driving three times around the world. That is a major logistic challenge.”

As part of its pandemic response, the Armed Forces have been involved in planning and command and control of these hospital setups.

The military has also been involved around the logistics of testing for the virus. Military personnel have played an important role in the design of test systems and in manning of test centres.


Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO)

On 7 May it was announced that the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has worked with industry partner Landmarc Support Service, to support military personnel using the Defence Training Estate to protect themselves against the Coronavirus.

The government has posted details of the procurement, revealing that additional temporary shower and toilet facilities and two mobile laundry facilities were provided. Within the statement, the Government said that:

“Due to the fast-moving nature of the Coronavirus pandemic, the teams had to work very quickly and the new facilities were in place within two weeks.”


The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA)

A £1 million fund to fast-track innovation to aid the Armed Forces in the fight against COVID-19 was launched by DASA at the beginning of April.

DASA’s Director of Defence Innovation Clare Cameron said:

“Innovators and industry have stepped up to the plate with a remarkable response to the Coronavirus outbreak. This investment will unleash the power of innovation to rapidly help us in the national effort against Coronavirus.

“Coronavirus is not just a health emergency, but also one that affects many other aspects of the way we live. That is why £1 million has been allocated to launch this rapid response call today seeking the very best ideas from innovators.”

During the Coronavirus pandemic the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has played an integral part in the procurement of services required to tackle the virus. The organisation’s Security Competition Lead, Gabriella Cox, has said:

“Innovation has never been more important as we play our part in the national effort against Coronavirus.”

At the end of March 2020, DASA made an announcement that it was looking for partners that could supply rapid sanitising technology that would speed up the time it takes to clean ambulances. This support was essential as it can take up to 45 minutes to clean an ambulance that has transported a patient suspected of having COVID-19.

Since the announcement, DASA has revealed that more than 200 ideas were submitted in just seven days following the appeal. Progress is said to be going well as Dstl scientist Steve Mitchell, who led the trials, has said:

“The trials have shown some really promising ideas ranging from fogging techniques, sprays, and using a decontaminant vapour to give a thorough and deep clean in the quickest time possible.”


Can Your Organisation Help In The Coronavirus Response?

If your organisation would like to get involved in the national Coronavirus response, DCI’s tools, resources and market intelligence can help you make this happen. DCI hosts the largest defence contracts database in Europe, and we provide organisations of all specialisms with defence contract opportunities that are relevant to your business and desired undertaking.

In these unprecedented times, new and existing suppliers in defence procurement will play an instrumental role in driving public services, local authorities and the Government itself forward. If your organisation can support the UK’s Coronavirus response, get in touch with the DCI team today.

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