The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccination.
Officials said that the vaccine, which the UK today became the first in the world to approve, will be made available from next week.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.”
The jab has been shown in studies to be 95 per cent effective and works in all age groups. The UK has already ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20 million people.
At a Downing Street briefing this morning, Dr June Raine, head of the MHRA regulator, insisted that “no corners had been cut” and that the vaccine “meets the strictest requirements of safety, of effectiveness, and of quality”.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said those who are most at risk of death from Covid-19 and healthcare workers would receive the vaccine first.
However he clarified that prioritisation “is not dependent on what tier someone is in”, as England’s three-tier system takes effect from today following the end of the second national lockdown.
The Armed Forces and NHS have already begun urgent preparations for the distribution of a vaccine, The Telegraph understands, while sources said that around 10 sites will be transformed into vaccine hubs within a fortnight.