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COVID vaccine to be rolled out next month if approved by UK regulator, govt announces

Written by on 20 November 2020

The NHS will be ready to start vaccinating people against coronavirus next month – if one is approved by regulators.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking at a Downing Street news conference, revealed the government has now taken the “first step” for authorising a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.

Ministers have formally asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in the UK.

The jab has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 95% in the companies’ phase 3 clinical study.

Mr Hancock said the companies had already begun submitting data to the MHRA and would submit their full data in the coming days.

“This is another important step forward in tackling this pandemic,” the health secretary added.

“If a vaccine is approved it will, of course, be available across the UK from our NHS, free at the point of delivery according to need and not ability to pay.”

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Mr Hancock said, if the MHRA approves a vaccine, “we will be ready to start the vaccination next month, with the bulk of the roll-out in the New Year”.

He added: “We’re heading in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go – coronavirus remains a grave danger right now.”

Earlier on Friday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the incidence rate of COVID-19 appeared to have “levelled off” in England and Scotland.

It also said rates had been decreasing in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the reproduction number – or R value – for the whole of the UK had dropped to between 1 and 1.1.