A pedestrian walks past street art in Soho amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in London, November 7, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The UK expects to have 10 million doses of a ‘highly effective’ Covid-19 vaccine available by the end of the year if regulators approve it, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Monday (Nov 9), following positive clinical trial results.

The spokesman said the UK had now ordered 40 million doses of the mRNA-based vaccine candidate – BNT162b2 – produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, which is one of six vaccines that the government has agreed supply deals for.

Vaccine 90 per cent effective

Pfizer said on Monday its experimental Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective, a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the world’s economy and upended daily life.

“In total we have procured 40 million doses of the Pfizer candidate vaccine with 10 million of those doses being manufactured and available to the UK by the end of the year if the vaccine is approved by the regulators,” the spokesman said.

Johnson has placed England under a second national lockdown to contain a new wave of Covid-19 infections, but he has said that the prospects of a vaccine are one cause for optimism that the situation will improve by spring.

“The results are promising and while we are optimistic of a breakthrough we must remember there are no guarantees. We will know whether the vaccine is both safe and effective once the safety data has been published and only then can licensing authorities consider making it available to the public,” the spokesman said.

“In the meantime the NHS stands ready to begin the vaccination programme for those most at risk once a Covid-19 vaccine is available, before being rolled out more widely.”

Pfizer believes it will be able produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and up to 1.3 billion in 2021.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO.

“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.

“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”

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