Live as Health Secretary Matt Hancock gives Covid-19 update
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is giving a public update on the latest coronavirus, testing, lockdown and vaccine news.
Mr Hancock is speaking in parliament to update MPs on the pandemic and the efforts to bring it under control.
Speaking earlier today Mr Hancock said rolling out a Covid vaccine to the masses could pose a “mammoth logistical operation”.
Mr Hancock highlighted some of the key obstacles in getting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine rolled out – should it be approved by regulators.
The vaccine, which provided early promising results from clinical trials on Monday, needs to be stored at minus 70C – which could pose transport and storage issues.
But Mr Hancock said that from the moment the vaccine leaves the factory in Belgium it can only be taken out of minus 70C four times before it is injected into a patient’s arm.
But it can be stored at a warmer temperature in the two days prior to being used, Mr Hancock said.
This implies that GPs will be able to administer the vaccines two days after deliveries without the need for new refrigeration systems.
Transportation of the vaccine from the factory in Belgium to GP practices across Britain could pose a problem.
Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “We haven’t got a vaccine yet, we’re not there yet, but we are one important step closer, and we’ll be ready to deploy it.”
He added: “There’s an enormous challenge of the rollout – we bought doses for 20 million people – 40 million doses in total; it takes two doses 21 days apart (and) it has to be stored until the last few hours before deployment at minus 70C.
“This is going to be a colossal effort to roll this out which the NHS is leading – we’ve been working on it for months in anticipation of this going right.”