Drug giant Pfizer and German partner BioNTech said its experimental coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective as it disclosed the first successful interim data from a large-scale clinical test. The release of the details marked major progress in the quest for a vaccine to combat a pandemic that has seen 1.2 million Britons infected and 49,238 killed.
The Prime Minister tweeted: “If and when the Pfizer & BioNTech Group vaccine is approved, we will be ready to start using it.
“But the biggest mistake we could make now would be to slacken our resolve at such a critical moment.
“We must continue to work together to protect our NHS and save lives.”
Doctors and NHS leaders urged the public to remain “vigilant” against the novel coronavirus in light of the breakthrough.
NHS Providers, which represents organisations across the health service, said the development from Pfizer and BioNTech was “welcome news”.
But it added: “We will have to remain vigilant for some time to come”.
And it said that administering any new vaccine could be a “challenge”.
Chief executive Chris Hopson said: “We welcome the news about the Pfizer vaccine being potentially available by the end of the year.
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“And that puts us towards the front of the international pack on a per capita basis.”
He added that ministers had ordered more than 300 million doses from five other vaccine candidates.
He went on to detail his plan for the rollout of a mass vaccination programme.
“If the Pfizer vaccine passes all the rigorous safety checks and is proved to be effective, then we will begin a UK-wide, NHS-led programme of vaccine distribution,” he said
He said when it comes to who is at the top of the pecking order, ministers would take advice from experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Reports suggest care home residents and frontline healthcare workers will be treated as a priority.
The British Medical Association (BMA) responded to Pfizer’s announcement by saying that GPs “stand ready” to deliver a vaccine even though there are still a number of processes which need to be completed.
Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the BMA’s GP committee in England, said GPs “will stand ready” to deliver the vaccine programme in December.
On Monday the UK recorded 21,350 new coronavirus cases and 194 deaths.