The UK has approved Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for general use from next week onwards, becoming the first country in the world to do so.
The vaccine, which offers 95 percent protection against the virus, will start being rolled out next week, with elderly and vulnerable patients first in line to be immunised.
The UK has so far ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, with 10 million becoming available soon. The first 800,000 will be arriving in a matter of days, with 50 hospitals across the country already preparing for the roll-out.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that people will be contacted by the NHS when it’s time for them to be vaccinated.
He said: "I'm confident now with the news today that, from spring, from Easter onwards, things are going to be better and we're going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy."
On Good Morning Britain, Hancock offered to have the vaccine administered “live on air” to convince viewers that the jab is safe for use.
While the vaccinations can start soon, experts warn that we still need to be vigilant and practice social distancing in the interim period, as it will be some time yet before a sufficient number of people are immunised. England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said: "We can't lower our guard yet."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “It's the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again." Back in July, Johnson claimed that things would return to normal by Christmas, claiming “it might be possible to move away from the social distancing measures” by November.
This is the exact opposite of what happened, so – as always – it might be wise to take the government’s word with a pinch of a salt.
Another difficulty could be getting enough people to take the vaccine, with research by King’s College London suggesting that half of the British population might refuse.