COVID jabs have been flown 9,000 miles for British scientists working in Antarctica.
The pilots landed on an ice strip runway only 1,500 miles from the South Pole to deliver a cache of AstraZeneca shots.
The Twin Otter plane was the first to reach the remote Rothera Research Station for 205 days.
The jabs flew from RAF Breeze Norton in Oxfordshire over Dakar and the Falklands in Senegal.
From there the plane – loaded with fruits and vegetables – completed the final stage to reach a fanatical group of 23 British Antarctic Survey scientists.
They spend the Antarctic winter – from March to October – in the dark on the ice caps, where temperatures drop to -30C.
The Foreign Office used contractor Crown agents to fly in readiness for the annual summer quadrupling of people at the station.
It is the farthest south where life-saving jabs have been flown.
Chile evacuated staff from its Antarctic base after the outbreak of Kovid in December.
There have been no confirmed cases in Rothera, the capital of the British Antarctic Territory.
Station team leader Matthew Phillips said of the Jabs’ arrival: “It puts us in a great position at the station and on the field of a busy summer.
“Being able to vaccinate people will help keep the station population and Antarctica Covid-free.”
He said: “I believe we are the last British Overseas Territory to receive a vaccine. We must represent even the most complex logistical challenge.
“There is an incredible amount of work going on in the background to make this possible and get the vaccine here.
‘Keeping Antarctica Covid-free’
“Many agencies have worked together to make this happen and we are very grateful to them for a job well done.”
The tiny Pacific island of Pitcairn – population 49 – was the last permanently inhabited British territory to get jabs, as we revealed in May.
Global Health Minister Wendy Morton said: “The transportation of vaccines to the ends of the earth reflects our commitment to the people living and working in the UK’s overseas territories.
“The government has supported the regions with vaccines and medical equipment through the pandemic.
“It has been a huge logistical effort that the UK can be proud of.”