And the first shots would go to frontline health workers and other key groups.
Meanwhile, Kate Bingham, who heads the government’s vaccine task force, warned early vaccines were “unlikely to end the pandemic.”
Professor Pollard told the Mail: ‘Life won’t get back to normal until summer at the earliest. We may need masks until July.
“If we end up with a vaccine that is effective in preventing disease, that is by far the best way to control the virus. But in the medium term, we will still need better treatments. When will life return to normal? Even if we had enough vaccines for everyone, in my opinion, it is unlikely that we will very quickly be in a position where the rules of physical distance can simply be dropped.
“Until we have a high level of immunity in the population so that we can stop the virus so that the most vulnerable people are immune, there will be a risk. Initially, we are going to be in a position where masquerading and social distancing do not change.
“It is only when there is a sharp drop in severe cases that governments will feel able to relax these measures. It is a very easily transmitted virus. ”
Meanwhile, Kate Bingham told Sky News that the first wave of oaks would not end the pandemic.
She said there were still uncertainties about the protection the vaccine prototypes the UK has stocked up will provide – and how long they will protect against the killer virus.
She told Sky: “We are not finished. The reason we have chosen a range of vaccines is to maximize our chances of having at least one effective vaccine that works in the most vulnerable population.
“We are always looking for additional vaccines for delivery at different times or with a different immune profile. ”
There are 340 million doses of six prototype vaccines in UK stockpiling.
Although this is more than any other country, Kate Bingham warned that more candidate vaccine candidates would be needed – with some in the early stages of development.
The University of Oxford has produced a potential vaccine with drug giant AstraZeneca which is the only one of the nine to have reached the final stages of trials.
It is hoped that this vaccine will be the first to be used.
But that will require approval from the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency, which will carefully review the data and a final assessment will take several weeks, with vaccine deployment likely to prove to be a major logistical challenge.