BioNTech/Pfizer Coronavirus vaccine 90 per cent effective in trials

The UK Health Secretary announced plans to roll out the new coronavirus vaccine, made by Pfizer and BioNTech, from as early as December 1, after preliminary trials showed 90 per cent effectiveness in patients.

Developers called the news a “milestone” and it was received with cautious optimism by MPs who say it could be weeks before it is deemed safe for distribution.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning: “We’ll be working across the NHS with the support to the armed forced seven days a week, over weekends, over bank holidays to get this rolled out into people’s arms as quickly as possible.”

He also announced a plan to provide an additional £150 million to support for GPs to administer the vaccinations.

What we know

The vaccine is still subject to further clinical reviews and approval by international health regulators. Pfizer and BioNTech conducted the trial using just over 43,500 people across six countries and had not reported “any serious safety concerns”.

The vaccine is meant to prevent people from being infected with coronavirus by injecting RNA material of Covid-19 into healthy patients in two doses, administered within three weeks of each other.

The immune system should build its own defence to be able to recognise when coronavirus enters the body by creating antibodies and T-cells to fight the virus.

Hancock said in the House of Commons on Tuesday that the vaccine would be available to the adult population only and priority groups such as healthcare workers.

He said children will not receive the vaccine as they were not included in the trials and, on average, have a lower risk of serious complications from the virus.  

Does the vaccine prevent transmission?

There are still a lot of questions to be answered.

It is unknown at this stage whether the vaccine prevents someone from spreading it or if it only stops symptoms from developing.  

Scientists still have been unable to find out how long someone stays immune to the virus – a question that is unlikely to be answered for years. Doctors say there is still much to be learned about the nature of the novel coronavirus which was identified in late 2019.

There could problems with distributing the vaccine because it needs to be stored at a very cold temperature to be effective.

The UK stands to receive 10 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech by the end of the year, if approved, plus an additional 30 million later.

Kingston will be among the 67 local areas to be subject to mass testing using the rapid test swabs that are said to produce a result in under an hour.

In Kingston, daily coronavirus cases rose slightly to 46 on Monday out of a total 251 new cases reported in the past week.

There were 194 deaths reported yesterday nationwide within 28 days of a positive test and 21,350 new positive cases on Tuesday, according to government data.

The second lockdown restrictions will be lifted in the UK on December 2.

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