UK may have 10million doses of breakthrough Covid vaccine by Christmas

Downing Street has welcomed the results from Pfizer’s vaccine tests as “promising” and said the UK will have procured 10 million doses by the end of the year to be given out if it is approved.

Pfizer says phase three testing of their vaccine has shown the drug to be more than 90 per cent effective against Covid.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The results are promising and while we are optimistic of a breakthrough, we must remember there are no guarantees.

“We will know whether the vaccine is both safe and effective once the safety data has been published and only then can licensing authorities consider making it available to the public.

“In the meantime, the NHS stands ready to begin a vaccination programme for those most at risk once a Covid-19 vaccine is available before being rolled out more widely.

“In total, we’ve procured 40 million doses of the Pfizer candidate vaccine, with 10 million of those doses being manufactured and available to the UK by the end of the year if the vaccine is approved by the regulators.”

Professor Azra Ghani, chair of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, welcomed the results but said that long-term efficacy data would come over coming weeks and months.

Prof Ghani said: “These new results represent the first demonstration of substantial efficacy of a vaccine candidate against Covid-19 disease, which is very welcome news.

“It is important to bear in mind that these are early results based on a relatively small number of cases.

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“In addition, the efficacy estimate is based on seven days of follow-up of participants following the second dose; further data in the coming weeks and months will provide a better picture of longer-term vaccine efficacy.”

The success of the latest coronavirus vaccine trials by Pfizer and BioNTech could pave the way for the rollout of a least one vaccine in the UK early in the new year, a scientist advising the Government has said.

Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and a member of the Government’s vaccine taskforce, said that other vaccines were now likely to become available in the near future.

“I am really delighted with this result – it shows that you can make a vaccine against this little critter. Ninety percent is an amazing level of efficacy,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.

“It rolls the pitch for other vaccines because I can’t see any reason now why we shouldn’t have a handful of good vaccines.”

Asked if people could look forward to a return to normal life by the spring, Sir John replied: “Yes, yes, yes, yes. I am probably the first guy to say that but I will say that with some confidence.”

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said interim results showed their jab could prevent people catching Covid-19.

Dr Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and chief executive, said: “Today is a great day for science and humanity.”

The FTSE 100 jumped more than 5.5% on the news, adding £82 billion to the value of its shares in the market’s best day since March.

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The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration – the US medicines regulator – by the end of the month for emergency approval to use the vaccine.

The UK Government has secured about 100 million doses of the jab in an agreement with the companies.

About 12 Covid-19 vaccines around the world are currently in the final stages of testing, but Pfizer’s is the first to report any results.

Dr Bourla said: “The first set of results from our Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19.”

He added: “We will continue to collect further data as the trial continues to enrol, for a final analysis planned when a total of 164 confirmed Covid-19 cases have accrued.

“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to make this important achievement possible.”