Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the NHS is ready to start the roll-out of the new Pfizer
vaccine for COVID-19. He said this would happen "as fast and safely as possible".
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The BBC reports this vaccine’s development has been the fastest ever, in terms of going from
planning to being proven effective.
He told the BBC it was “absolutely a possibility” that the vaccine could be available by
However, it is expected that the vaccine will only be available to a small number of people in
December. Hancock added that the vaccine would only be available for mass roll-out “in the first
part of next year”.
To make sure the vaccine is deployed effectively, Hancock said vaccination clinics would be
open seven days a week. He added he was giving General Practitioners an extra £150m to fund
This does not mean that life will return to a pre-COVID normal just yet. Hancock emphasised
people still need to be patient. He told the BBC “we just don’t know” the number of people that
will need to be vaccinated before we can return to a pre-COVID state of normality.
He told BBC Breakfast: "We still appeal this morning for people's patience, firstly to follow
existing rules, because this is still a deadly disease and this is not over yet.
"Even once we start to roll it out, we still need to look after ourselves, look after our community
by following the rules and being careful to stop the spread of transmission.
"The NHS is ready, we're prepared, I've put in the extra £150m today, the GPs are ready, we're
working with the pharmacists, the hospitals are going to play a very important role."
According to Hancock, staff and residents in care homes would be prioritised for vaccines.
These individuals will be followed by those working in other health care services. At this point,
children will not be vaccinated.
Oxford University’s Professor Sir John Bell said that he is “more of the view that we need to
vaccinate further into the population and vaccinate younger people as well, partly because we
don't really know what the long term effects of this disease are."
Testing, however, is on the rise, as more and more rapid tests are being made available. These
tests provide results in less than an hour and will be accessible to people across 66 local areas.
These have been trialled during the mass testing runs that were implemented in Liverpool over
the past few weeks.
Professor Adam Finn, from Bristol University, flagged that the cases on which the vaccine was
tested were very mild and described the assumption that it would prevent the elderly getting ill
or dying "a leap of faith". He continued to say that "we have to take that leap of faith, that's the
evidence we've got at this point and 90% is pretty good.”
The vaccine will not be released into the public until it has undergone final safety checks and
received the all-clear from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Chairman of the BMA's GP committee in England, Dr Richard Vautrey, said that the GPs and
practice nurses were the right people to carry out this job given their "proven track record of
mass immunisation campaigns."