By Rachael Grealish
The Health Secretary has said a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready to deploy to the public from next month if the regulator agrees.
Matt Hancock spoke to the nation from Downing Street today, Friday November 20, during which he gave hope to the public of a coronavirus vaccine being ready.
He said: “If the regulator approves the vaccine, we will be ready to start vaccination next month with the bulk of the rollout in the new year.”
Hancock said that he has formally asked the regulator – the MHRA – to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in the UK.
He also confirmed the company had already begun submitting data to the regulator and would submit its full data in the coming days.
While being questioned by the press the Health Secretary was asked that due to the disproportionate number of BAME deaths due to COVID-19, would those people be given a ‘priority’ for the vaccine – however Hancock said ‘the government’s committee said the most important determining factor is a person’s age and those looking after you’.
Hancock said the speed of the roll-out of a vaccine would depend on the speed it could be manufactured, explaining: “If the regulator approves a vaccine we will be ready to start the vaccination next month with the bulk of roll-out in the new year.”
He added: “We are heading in the right direction but there is still a long way to go.”
Although not physically joined by Professor Johnathan Van-Tam due to him self-isolating, Van-Tam joined the conference to answer questions virtually and was not fully able to back Hancock’s ‘next month’ roll out of the vaccine.
While speaking about it he said the country is on the ‘glide path’ towards a vaccine but there is a risk of ‘ side winds’ – adding he would not be ‘drawn on a percentage of a vaccine being rolled out next month’.