Covid jab used in 50 hospitals from next week as PM hails ‘biological jiu jitsu’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stressed the UK now has "the sure and certain knowledge" that it will return to normal after his government approved the use of the Pfizer Covid vaccine – and revealed it will be deployed in 50 NHS hospitals from next week.

Speaking from No.10 Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: "It is almost a year since humanity has been tormented by Covid, across the world economic output has plummeted and 1,500,000 people have died.

"All the time we've been waiting and hoping for the day when the searchlights of science would pick out our invisible enemy and give us the power to stop that enemy from making us ill.

"And now the scientists have done it, and they have used the virus itself to perform a sort of biological jiu jitsu to turn the virus on itself in the form of a vaccine."

However, the PM insisted the new vaccine would take time to roll out and stressed that the roll out which would begin this week would be a huge logistical challenge

Despite warning against over-optimism, Mr Johnson said it was now "sure and certain" that life could start returning to normal in 2021.

A combination of community testing, vaccines and social distancing measures were still necessary, he told the Downing Street press conference.

"As we do all this we are no longer resting on the mere hope that we can return to normal next year, in the spring, but rather the sure and certain knowledge that we will succeed and together reclaim our lives and all the things about our lives that we love," he said.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the first vaccines will be given to the most vulnerable at 50 hospital hubs across the UK from next week – but the bulk of vaccinations will take place in "January through to March or April for the at-risk population".

Speaking from Number 10 alongside the PM, he said: "Supplies from the manufacturer are phased so the initial tranche in December is going to enable us to get started but the bulk of this vaccination programme, either through this vaccine, or hopefully others as well that will join it, will take place in the period January through to March or April for the at-risk population.

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"The majority of the early vaccinations will, as I say, be for the over-80s and for care home residents and since you need two jabs with an initial injection and then a booster given to you around 21 days apart that means that we've got to reserve the second dose for the people who are getting the first dose in December to make sure that that second dose is available for them."

Earlier on Wednesday morning, the Government announced that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine has been approved, with the NHS ready to start the roll out next week.

Scientists found it offers up to 95% protection against the coronavirus and works in all age groups.

The UK has secured 40million doses of the jab, which means 20million people will be able to get the vaccine.

Patients need to doses of the vaccine, meaning not enough shots have been secured for the entire UK yet.

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Immunisations will be rolled out from next week, and the priority list has been confirmed. You can read what we know about the rollout here.

Professor Chris Whitty, England's Chief Medical Officer, has described the latest vaccine developments as a "step towards normality".

But he warned Brits not to "lower our guard yet".

He tweeted: "The independent regulator authorised the first vaccine for use against Covid-19.

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"This is excellent news and a step towards normality.

"It will take until spring until the vulnerable population who wish to are fully vaccinated. We can't lower our guard yet."

And the PM, tweeting earlier, also said it was "fantastic" regulators have formally authorised the vaccine, adding: "The vaccine will begin to be made available across the UK from next week.

"It’s the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again."

Experts from the UK's vaccine regulator insist the development of the Pfizer jab "has cut no corners".

  • Boris Johnson
  • NHS
  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown

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