A Covid-19 vaccine has now been approved for widespread use in the UK, with vaccinations to get underway as early as next week.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been found to be 95 per effective across all age groups, with experts stating that the best protection comes after the second dose.
People who receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be given two doses, three weeks apart.
While the vaccine will provide some level of protection around 12 days after the first jab, the strongest level of immunity comes seven days after the second dose is delivered.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of Commission on Human Medicine expert working group, explained at a Downing Street press conference, “From the data that has been presented to us, people will be immune seven days after the second dose.
“Partial immunity does occur after the first dose. And we can see some protection occurring after day 12 of the first dose, but the best immunity is seven days after the second dose.”
Regulators had been given access to the raw data, including clinical trials and manufacturing processes, and concluded that there is “overwhelming benefit” for this particular vaccine, prompting the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to grant approval for its use.
The data has shown the vaccine to be effective across all groups who took part in the trial, irrespective of their age, sex, race or country they lived in.
Commenting on the safety, Sir Munir said, “The trials had about 40,000 individuals and half of those received the vaccine and half received the placebo.
“From the data that has been provided, most of the adverse effects were mild and short-lasting. Usually lasted for a day or two - similar to the kind of effects you get after any other vaccine.
“So that is really important to note that we haven’t identified any serious adverse reactions throughout the trials.”
When will the vaccine be rolled out?
The rollout of the vaccine will start at 50 so-called ‘hospital hubs’ in England next week, while vaccinations are also expected to get underway across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland within the next few days.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the jab, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people with the required two doses, given 21 days apart.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 800,000 doses of the jab will arrive next week, with millions more arriving shortly after.
The bulk of vaccinations will take place in January through to March or April for those who are at highest risk, including the over 80s, care home staff and healthcare workers.
This is the plan for the vaccine roll out, listed in order of highest priority:
Residents in a care home for older adults and their carersAll those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workersAll those 75 years of age and overAll those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individualsAll those 65 years of age and overAll individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortalityAll those 60 years of age and overAll those 55 years of age and overAll those 50 years of age and overThe rest of the population, with priority yet to be determined