Britain expects to roll out Pfizer's Covid vaccine from December 1

Matt Hancock says Britain is ‘working closely’ with Pfizer to roll out the firm’s breakthrough Covid-19 vaccine as soon as December 1

  • The Health Secretary said UK would be ready to deploy it ‘as soon as it comes’
  • Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: ‘We’ll be ready from the first of December’
  • Pfizer and German partner BioNTech last week said their jab was 90% effective 

Britain expects to start rolling out the Pfizer vaccine just before Christmas if it is declared safe and effective, Matt Hancock said

Matt Hancock today claimed Britain is ‘working very closely’ with Pfizer to roll out the drug giant’s breakthrough Covid vaccine from the start of December.

The Health Secretary said the UK would be ready to deploy the jab ‘as soon as it comes’.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We’ll be ready from the first of December… but more likely is that we may be able to start rolling it out before Christmas.’

Asked how many vaccines Britain would need, he said it depended on how effective they were at preventing transmission. 

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech last week sparked hopes that the end of the pandemic was finally in sight, after they announced their jab was 90 per cent effective and could be available to the public as soon as next month. 

The results revealed nine in 10 people who take the jab do not fall ill with Covid-19, but the data could not tell if the vaccine actually prevents people from passing it to others.

The major breakthrough means people could begin getting vaccinated before the year is out, if regulators are satisfied with the safety of the jab. 

Hopes of another successful coronavirus vaccine are soaring after scientists today began a trial to test it on 6,000 people in the UK. Under an early-access deal, Britain is promised 30million doses of the vaccine from pharmaceutical firm Janssen by the middle of next year. 

No10 has deals securing early access to 350million doses of six vaccines, including the Pfizer/BioNTech and Janssen jabs.

Government sources claim safety and efficacy data from Oxford and AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine — another one of the jabs the UK has bought — is on track to be published later this week.

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech last week announced their jab may be 90 per cent effective and could be available to the public as soon as next month

Hopes of another successful coronavirus vaccine are soaring after scientists today began a trial to test it on 6,000 people in the UK.

Under an early-access deal, Britain is promised 30million doses of the vaccine from pharmaceutical firm Janssen by the middle of next year.

The large trial to determine if the vaccine works aims to recruit around 6,000 people in the UK, from a total of 30,000 worldwide.

The vaccine from Janssen, which is owned by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, comes in two doses. A result on whether it works could be available in six to eight months.

Around 23,000 people in the UK have so far signed up to vaccine trials for the jab developed at Oxford University and one from US biotech firm Novavax.

So far, almost 318,000 people have indicated their willingness to take part in clinical studies by signing up to the NHS vaccine research registry.

There are concerns about the number of people who will refuse to take a new Covid-19 vaccine due to misinformation being spread on social media. 

The UK Government, unlike other countries, will not force Brits to take the jab, so achieving herd immunity will be purely reliant on people trusting that the jabs are safe. 

Mr Hancock told Times Radio this morning: ‘Being opposed to vaccinations where they have been through the rigorous safety processes is entirely inappropriate.

‘And I wouldn’t advise it for anybody, because we don’t propose, and allow vaccines in this country, unless they pass some of the most stringent safety requirements in the world.

‘Getting a vaccine – whether it’s for flu or hopefully for coronavirus – is something that not only protects you but protects the people around you. So it’s a really important step.’

He added: ‘The whole of medicine is the story of advances that are based on science and vaccines are one of the most important advances based on science in the history of medicine.

‘And other than clean water have probably saved more lives than anything else in the history of humanity.

‘That’s what the science tells us, and I think that we should be guided by that science.’

There are around a dozen vaccines in the final stages of their clinical trials around the world. 

And there are more than 100 more in various stages of development, some of which will fail and some of which may be better than the ones that are nearly finished now.

Experts say waiting for a vaccine better than the first one is not an option because the coronavirus is killing so many people so quickly.

Dr Mary Ramsey, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said the vaccine candidate from Pfizer posed a ‘challenge’ because it needs to be stored at minus 80C.

She said if the vaccine is approved for NHS use it would be stored in hubs – including hospitals and wholesalers – and then sent to vaccination clinics and GP surgeries.

‘The Pfizer vaccine in particular is quite challenging because it has to be stored at minus 80 degrees and then transported around,’ she told BBC Breakfast.

‘So there will be a balance – obviously you don’t want to waste vaccine because this is very precious stock and also, to get the vaccine to the people where they need it.

‘So, you know, we’re putting plans in place that will really allow us to try and do the programme as soon as the vaccine arrives.’

She added: ‘The Pfizer vaccine would have to be stored in hubs in each region and then delivered to GPs.

‘We will have hubs around the country that will be storing it. Some of them are in hospitals where they have those very low freezers, but also… maybe some wholesalers in particular parts of the country.’


Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine could cost Britain £588million and wind up being seven times more expensive per dose than the one being developed by Oxford University.

The jab, which the company this week claimed is 90 per cent effective and could be approved by regulators within weeks, is likely to cost at least £15 per dose and must be stored in specially designed ice packs that can cost approximately £5,000 each.

A vaccine being produced by Oxford, however, may cost as little as £2.23 per dose after the university and manufacturer AstraZeneca agreed not to profit from it.

Trial results from Oxford have not yet been released but early findings are expected next week, after the first stage of studies found it did trigger the immune system — suggesting it will prevent illness.

One of the two is likely to become the first coronavirus vaccine to be rolled out in Britain, with the NHS now gearing up to be ready to start delivering a jab from the start of December.

Each will require two doses spaced three or four weeks apart, meaning the cost of vaccinating one person could range from just £4.50 to £30.

While 40million doses of Pfizer’s have been ordered, at a potential cost of £588.4m, the 100m doses of Oxford’s could come in at a significantly lower £223m.

Ministers, who have already spent billions of pounds on protecting the NHS, paying furlough bills and testing people for coronavirus, will no doubt be hoping the cheapest option comes good first.

The world is now hurtling towards the position where getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is a real possibility and the UK Government today launched a campaign to inspire public confidence in the safety of the jab in hopes that millions will get it.

She added that Public Health England is developing training so healthcare assistants will be able to help deliver a Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Ramsey said: ‘In general, most vaccination in this country is given by nurses – they’re excellent at it and they do a brilliant job.

‘But we will have to use other staff. During the flu season we do tend to bring in healthcare assistants and other people.

‘PHE is developing training materials so that we can bring other staff on board.

‘They will be under the supervision of a nurse and/or a doctor, so there will be supervision and training.

‘But we will be using people who have a range of backgrounds. But that’s the normal way for delivering programmes like this.’

NHS England last week warned GP surgeries could have their services cut back until the middle of 2021 so that doctors can immunise millions of people.

A thousand practices are being geared up to dish out 1.2million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine every week, in a major army-backed operation to get life back to normal.

Mr Hancock has promised the health service will work around the clock to get the UK vaccinated, with practices open between 8am and 8pm every day of the week and on Bank Holidays.  

Pharmacists and dedicated clinics set up in places such as sports halls are also likely to be used. Patients will need to be observed for 15 minutes after the vaccination is administered and appointments will be managed through a national booking system.

Number 10 has been urged ‘not to screw up’ the rollout of any coronavirus jab. 

Pfizer’s jab — considered the front-runner alongside Oxford’s experimental jab — has to be stored at -70C which rules out keeping it at most GP surgeries or pharmacies. 

And it needs to be transported in refrigerated lorries and special suitcase-sized boxes filled with dry ice to prevent it from spoiling.

The Government’s track record in handling logistical issues through the pandemic will not instill confidence that the mass-rollout of the new vaccine will run without any hiccups. 

For example, the centralised testing programme has been hit by a catalogue of failures since the pandemic began and the contact tracing mobile app was delayed by four months.    



This is the first coronavirus vaccine so far that has been shown to work, having been found to be 90 per cent effective in a trial of more than 43,000 people.

There are some concerns about the two-dose jab, because it needs to be largely kept in ultra-cold storage at around minus 70C.

But the interim results suggest it is one of the most successful vaccines ever developed. It uses genetic code in a fat droplet to instruct the body to make the coronavirus spike protein, which causes the body’s immune system to produce antibodies.

Ugur Sahin and his wife Oezlem are the brains behind the vaccine and the German couple’s company BioNTech is developing it with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The UK is promised ten million doses by the end of the year, and 30million next year. So far only hundreds of thousands have been produced.


Results on this vaccine are hoped for this week. Up to 100million doses have been promised to the UK, and 13,000 British volunteers have taken part in global trials.

The vaccine uses a deactivated chimpanzee cold virus, containing genetic code which triggers cells to produce the spike protein on the outside of the coronavirus, so the body can recognise it and fight it off.


An international trial of 30,000 people, including 6,000 in the UK, starts today, measuring the effectiveness of two vaccine doses. It works like the Oxford vaccine, but uses a common cold virus to deliver the genetic code which triggers cells to produce the spike protein of the coronavirus.


The vaccine from US biotech firm Novavax began being tested in a UK study in September and has so far recruited 10,000 people.

The vaccine contains a synthesised copy of the coronavirus spike protein and a ‘booster’ to enhance the immune response. There are 60million doses promised to the UK, which it is hoped will be available by mid-2021.


This is a traditional vaccine unlike the more innovative design from BioNtech. The immune system is safely exposed to an inactivated version of the coronavirus.

Up to 190million doses are promised to the UK, although it has not yet been tested on people. Up to 100million of those are set to be manufactured at the company’s facilities in Livingston, near Edinburgh. It is not expected to be available until late next year.


British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline has reportedly already manufactured millions of doses of a ‘booster’ for three vaccines.

The firm is providing its adjuvant technology and has partnered with Sanofi, Medicago and Clover Pharmaceuticals. The first results on whether one of the three traditional protein-based vaccines work are expected in the first half of next year.

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