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16 Nov, 2020 09:55

Britain may roll out Covid-19 vaccine before Christmas, health minister says

Britain may roll out Covid-19 vaccine before Christmas, health minister says

Health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday he expects the UK to start rolling out the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine just before Christmas. But the majority of people in the country will not be vaccinated until next year.

“We’re working very closely with the company,” the minister told the BBC. “We’ll be ready to roll it out as soon as it comes, we’ll be ready from the first of December.” However, he added, “more likely is that we may be able to start rolling it out before Christmas.”

Vaccines should be first declared safe and effective before health authorities determine how many Britain would need.

Even if that comes through as fast as it possibly could, the vast majority of people will be, we’d expect, to be vaccinating in the new year.

At the same time, the authorities are trying to develop a set of rules so that people can meet at Christmas, Hancock told Sky on Monday. “We’re absolutely working to make Christmas as normal as possible.”

Hancock said earlier this month that delivery of the first doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech before Christmas was “absolutely a possibility.” Mass rollout in Britain is expected in the first part of 2021.

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The UK has already secured 40 million doses, and this would be enough for 20 million people. This year, the first 10 million doses are expected to be delivered.

The health minister also said Boris Johnson is “well, he’s absolutely full of beans,” after the UK prime minister was told by the NHS on Sunday to self-isolate for two weeks after a coronavirus contact. “He’ll be, I’ve got no doubt, driving things forward this week by Zoom,” Hancock said.

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