The COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by Christmas, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Early trial results has shown that the RNA vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech, could prevent more than 90% of people from getting coronavirus.
Around 40 million doses have already been ordered for the UK, which is thought to be enough to vaccinate up to 20 million people because two doses are required.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hancock said the announcement was “promising news” but warned it was only “one step of many we need to get out of this and to tackle this pandemic once and for all”.
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He added: “The critical thing is that we all keep our resolve on the measures that are in place now.
“Of course, there are many hurdles that still need to be gone over and we haven’t seen the full safety data and obviously that is critical and we won’t deploy a vaccine unless we can be confident in its clinical safety.”
Care home residents and staff, NHS workers and social care staff would be the first people expected to receive the vaccine.
GP surgeries have been told by the British Medical Association (BMA) to be ready for “rapid delivery” of the vaccine once it has been officially approved by regulators.
In a statement, the BMA said: “Vaccine availability will be limited to begin with, meaning only small numbers of vaccines may be given in December with most vaccinations taking place in early 2021.
In the community:
“Working together, practices will need to be prepared to offer vaccinations seven days a week so that the vaccine is delivered within its short shelf-life and so patients receive it as soon as possible.
“Practices will need to work together to decide which one practice (or another appropriate site) is used for the vaccination site, remembering the need for provision to be potentially available 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.”