Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is “safe”, “effective” and a “gamechanger”. Prof Harnden has suffered with long Covid which developed three days after his 60th birthday.
He told BBC Newsnight Britain should be celebrating after the Prime Minister announced on Wednesday plans to roll out the vaccine.
Responding to a question about prioritising who receives the vaccine, he told presenter Emily Maitlis: “This is a pivotal moment for the UK in our collective response to this ghastly virus and I think we should all be celebrating at the moment.
“These were incredibly different issues to weigh up but we looked very, very carefully at all the epidemiological data, that was both published and unpublished, and it was quite clear that the morbidity and mortality was so biased towards age you are hugely more at risk the older you get.
“In fact, if you look at deaths, for instance, 90 percent of all deaths were in 65-year-olds or above to date and 99 percent of deaths would be covered by the nine priority groups which we’ve outlined.”
He added that there will be individual “outliers whom we’d love to give the vaccine given unlimited supply” but said protecting the most vulnerable is “the root that we’ve taken”.
Ms Maitlis responded: “Let me ask you with your GP hat on and also as a long Covid sufferer yourself, if you’re hearing people say ‘I’ve had covid, I don’t need it’, what would be your answer?”
Prof Harnden revealed he developed Covid three days after his 60th birthday “with complications” and has “still got lingering effects to date”.
He urged anybody who has suffered with Covid to seek the vaccine.
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“‘Of course you should get the vaccine, dad, [I replied]’.
“It’s safe, it’s effective; it’s going to be a gamechanger.”
Mr Johnson has confirmed the vaccine has been approved and plans for life to return to normality by spring 2021.
Studies have shown it is 95 percent effective and can be used with all age groups.
Forty million doses of the jab have been ordered by the government – enough to immunise 20 million people.
Speaking from 10 Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: “We’re no longer resting on the mere hope that we can return to normal next year in the spring, but rather the sure and certain knowledge that we will succeed and together reclaim our lives and all the things about our lives that we love.”
However, he said there is a strong possibility of “immense logistical challenges” concerning distribution ahead.
Mr Johnson added: “It will inevitably take some months before all the most vulnerable are protected – long, cold months.
“So it’s all the more vital that as we celebrate this scientific achievement we are not carried away with over-optimism or fall into the naive belief that the struggle is over.”