Covid jab could be available in weeks to provide ‘salvation for humanity’, says Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson raised hopes of a vaccine by Christmas (Image: REUTERS)
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A coronavirus vaccine could be available in "just a few weeks", Boris Johnson has said.
The Prime Minister said a workable jab could be rolled out before Christmas "if we're lucky" – which would provide "salvation for humanity".
His comments come as the race for a vaccine appeared to be entering the final stages, with positive results from a number of different candidates.
On Monday, US firm Moderna applied to UK and EU regulators for emergency approval of their coronavirus vaccine after a late-stage trial found it was 94.1% effective in all age groups.
The Government has also formally asked the UK regulator to assess another vaccine developed at Oxford University, which reported an average of 70.4% efficacy in its trials.
This rose to 90% when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose at least a month later.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its partner BioNTech also reported 95% efficacy for their vaccine.
Boris Johnson said a jab could be the 'salvation for humanity'
(Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)
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Coronavirus vaccine: Moderna says its jab is 94.1% effective across all age groups
Mr Johnson raised hopes that a Covid vaccine could be green-lit shortly on a visit to a pharmaceutical firm in Wrexham, which could produce the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
He told reporters: "This could – could, if we're lucky, if everything goes right – be available just in a few weeks.
"This could – and I stress could – really be the salvation for humanity, these vaccines, not just this one but obviously all the vaccines that are currently being developed."
Mr Johnson said there would be "extra cash" so the nation was ready to create vaccines for the next pandemic.
"What we need now is the approvals," he added.
"It must be stressed that no vaccine has yet got MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) approval but we're obviously hoping that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca will get approved in the course of the next few days and weeks."
The UK has ordered 7 million doses of the Moderna jab – enough for 3.5 million people.
Some 40 million doses have been secured from Pfizer, as well as 100 million of the Oxford vaccine.
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The Prime Minister also defended his plan to move England back into a tiered restrictions when the nationwide lockdown ends on Wednesday – which has prompted a ferocious Tory backlash.
He said: "We can't afford to take our foot off the throat of the beast, to take our foot off the gas, we can't afford to let it out of control again.
"The tiering system is tough, but it's designed to be tough and to keep it under control.
"I know that lots of people think that they are in the wrong tier and I understand people's frustration.
"I particularly understand the frustration of the hospitality sector that has borne so much and been through so much in the last few months, and we will do everything we can, as we have been doing, to protect and to encourage that sector throughout the weeks and months ahead."
Up to 100 Tories could rebel against the Government in crunch Commons vote on Tuesday, forcing the PM to rely on Labour to get the plan over the line.
Keir Starmer will make the final decision on Labour's stance on Monday but shadow cabinet members Lisa Nandy and Jim McMahon signalled that the party would back the move on Sunday.