The NHS is preparing for a major inoculation program, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed.
The first needles could be ready by December 1 to “inject hope into millions of weapons this winter,” he told MPs.
Vaccines will first be available to residents and workers in nursing homes, followed by NHS and care staff and people aged 80 and over – potentially allowing older people to cuddle their grandchildren during the holiday season.
Each vaccinated person needs two injections of the Pfizer and Biontech jab.
The Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency is currently reviewing the effectiveness of the injection.
Its findings could allow nursing home residents to receive visitors safely – bringing families together over Christmas.
The watchdog’s advice will have an immediate impact on how vaccinated people may behave if their deployment is approved in December.
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A senior source dit au Mirror: “This is definitely something our expert review will look at in terms of the speed of onset and duration of the immune response.”
Another source warned that it would be difficult to allow a change in behavior in time for Christmas, as immunity would not develop until 14 days after the second dose was given.
The clinical trial involved 44,000 volunteers in the United States, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.
Among them was Glenn Deshields, a lobbyist from Austin, Texas, who compared the side effects of the jab to “a serious hangover.”
The 44-year-old was “very excited” by the results of the trial, adding: “My grandfather, one of his earliest memories was of the bells ringing at the end of the First World War.
“It was a horrible war and horrible things happened and people were just happy it was over.
“In my mind, I felt the same… I felt like it was something like that.
“Thank you my God, it’s going to be over at some point.”
Half of the participants received the vaccine and half received a placebo – a harmless liquid that will have no effect.
The full results of clinical trials on the 22,000 vaccinated to be announced during the last week of November could confirm previous results showing that it produces no significant side effects.
The trial is double-blind, which means participants do not know whether they are receiving the vaccine or a placebo.
Carrie, 45, of Missouri, said enrolling was a “civic duty” and that she was “very proud” of the results.
She says. “There are so many people who have had it and who have suffered.
“The thought that we could do something to prevent people from suffering from this, from losing family members, that we could get rid of them and get back to some kind of normalcy in our lives – that’s a determining factor for me.
“I don’t want anyone else to be sick.”
Carrie, who works in publishing, received her first shot in September and her second last month.
She believed she received the vaccine after suffering from mild side effects – headache, fever and body aches – similar to the flu.
Bryan, an engineer from Rome, Georgia, felt “a little proud” upon hearing the news.
The 42-year-old said: “It was the least I could do to help.”
Bryan believes he was given the placebo – he felt no immune response and, after receiving his two injections, fell with Covid shortly after his daughter caught it last month.
His whole family eventually caught him but they all recovered.
The UK has bought 40 million doses of the Pfizer / Biontech jab.
The clinics are expected to operate seven days a week.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: ‘Deploying the vaccine will involve working long days and weekends, and it adds to everything the NHS has already done for us this year, and I want to thank my colleagues in the NHS in advance for the work. that this will entail.
“I know they will rise to this challenge of being ready when the science is right to inject hope into millions of guns this winter.”
Confirming that the military can be involved in the deployment of vaccines, he added: “The logistics are complex, the uncertainties are real and the scale of the work is vast, but I know the NHS, brilliantly assisted by the armed forces , will be up to the task. to the job. ”
Experts have warned of technical difficulties in delivering the jab, which must be stored at minus 70 ° C until a few hours before it is injected.
Temperature limits “will only add to the complexity around transport and storage logistics with specialized storage needed,” warned Cranfield University supply chain strategy professor Richard Wilding. .
He said: “Specialized infrastructure and storage equipment will become a full-fledged supply chain with its own manufacturing and distribution processes.
“The constraints on this supply chain will then have an impact on the amount of vaccine you can transport.”
The deployment of the program is “probably one of the biggest logistical challenges we have faced this century,” he said.