New Pfizer coronavirus vaccine will arrive in Britain 'in hours'

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·2-min read
England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van Tam speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Downing Street in London, Britain December 2, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley/Pool
Jonathan Van Tam said a coronavirus vaccine should arrive in the UK in hours. (Reuters)

The newly-approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine should be in the UK in “hours”, a senior government medical expert has said.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, was speaking about the cold storage requirements for the vaccine on BBC 5 Live on Thursday morning.

Discussing the low temperature it needs, he said “we currently expect to receive (the vaccine) very shortly in the UK, and I do mean hours, not days”.

It follows approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Wednesday.

Watch: How will the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine work?

Earlier, he told BBC Breakfast that there is no indication there will be difficulties in giving the vaccine to people with chronic underlying health conditions.

Pregnant women will not be given the vaccine but Prof Van-Tam said this was a “safety first” approach.

“Does the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) suggest that pregnant women should be vaccinated? No, it does not, and that isn’t a sign that the JCVI, or me, have seen some terrible problem,” he said.

“It’s a definite sign that we don’t have the data at this point and therefore, safety first, always being cautious, even though there may well be no problem at all.”

The professor added that he expects the US regulator to follow the MHRA in approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was the first to give it a green light.

“We are the first to approve it because we’ve been really, really organised about this from the word go.

“I started focusing behind the scenes on getting vaccines and vaccine preparedness back in March – actually quite a bit before the vaccine taskforce, which has been absolutely brilliant, was formed.”

He said the MHRA has “just been superb in this space” and sought to get data early, and that the manufacturers “moved at real pace”.

Watch: How the new tier system works