Friday, 27 Nov 2020

NHS ready to vaccinate people in three weeks after jab breakthrough

The NHS could begin vaccinating people from the start of December, Matt Hancock has revealed.

The Health Secretary told Sky News that no vaccine will be deployed until the Government is ‘confident’ of its safety.

He said he has asked the NHS to be ready to deploy a vaccine from the start of December.

But urging caution, Hancock added: ‘Of course, there are many hurdles that still need to be gone over and we haven’t seen the full safety data, and obviously that is critical.

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‘We won’t deploy a vaccine unless we can be confident in its clinical safety, but we also do need to be ready should a vaccine be licensed and get through all those hurdles and be ready to roll it out.’

It comes after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced its vaccine candidate is more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19, signalling a major breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic.

But Boris Johnson has warned the nation it ‘cannot rely’ on a jab just yet as more safety data is needed.

At a Downing Street press conference yesterday, he urged people not to become complacent during England’s second national lockdown.

He added: ‘‘I must stress that these are very, very early days.

‘I can tell you that tonight that toot of the bugle is louder, but it’s still some way off, we absolutely cannot rely on this news as a solution.

‘The biggest mistake we could make now would be to slacken our resolve at a critical moment.’

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The British Medical Association (BMA) has said vaccines could be available from GPs and at drive-through sites operating from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

It has told surgeries to be ready for ‘rapid delivery’ once they are given the green-light by regulators.

The doctors’ union has created guidance for GPs on the new ‘directed enhanced service’ document – which sets out how they deliver a service above their usual contract.

Family doctors have been provided with information on how they will provide the vaccine, what they will be paid for the service and other key information.

GPs have been told to prepare to give patients two vaccine doses, which are to be delivered between 21 and 28 days apart.

The BMA said eligible patients will be ‘confirmed soon’, but it is expected that the priority list for who gets the vaccine will be in line with that set out by Government vaccine advisers.

Those on top of this list so far are care home residents and workers, health and social care staff, and older people – split into several age categories.

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