The army has mobilised an elite “information warfare” unit renowned for assisting operations against al-Qaeda and the Taliban to counter online propaganda against vaccines, as Britain prepares to deliver its first injections within days.
The defence cultural specialist unit was launched in Afghanistan in 2010 and belongs to the army’s 77th Brigade. The secretive unit has often worked side-by-side with psychological operations teams.
Leaked documents reveal that its soldiers are already monitoring cyberspace for Covid-19 content and analysing how British citizens are being targeted online.
The UK’s biggest Covid-19 testing laboratory is prioritising Premiership Rugby players and travellers to Dubai while failing to meet government targets for the public, according to company insiders.
Randox Laboratories, based in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, was handed a £133m testing contract in March — no other company was given the opportunity to bid for the work. It is responsible for a quarter of community tests in the UK.
However, leaked documents marked “sensitive” reveal that it regularly fails to provide test results within the official 24-hour target. On September 9, Randox completed fewer than one in 10 tests on time. It has also “voided” more tests than any laboratory — meaning the number it throws away because of errors.
One of the largest studies in the world on coronavirus in schools, carried out in 100 institutions in the UK, will confirm that “there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted” there, according to a leading scientist.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of the government advisory group Sage, said: “A new study that has been done in UK schools confirms there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools.
“This is the some of the largest data you will find on schools anywhere. Britain has done very well in terms of thinking of collecting data in schools.”