NHS hospitals have been told to be ready to deploy a vaccine from as early as Wednesday, The Telegraph understands.
Said to be 95 per cent effective, the results of the Pfizer-BioNTech phase three trials are currently being examined by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Doses could begin arriving on the frontline within days of approval being granted.
Matt Hancock has said for weeks that the NHS should be prepared to roll out the vaccine from the beginning of December. According to the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation, care home residents and workers should receive the first doses, with healthcare staff, people aged 80 and over and social care workers second in line.
However, because the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at between -70C and -80C, it is expected that the initial doses will be administered from hospitals, rather than GP surgeries and pharmacies, with NHS staff likely to be the first to benefit.
Speaking on Sunday, Prof Peter Openshaw of Imperial College, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, said a coronavirus vaccine could be available "as early as next week".
It follows the news that the Government has secured a further two million doses of the Moderna vaccine - the second to have announced its results - which is 95 per cent effective.
It brings the total number of jabs on order from the US firm Moderna to seven million - enough for around 3.5 million people in the UK.
Last night Pfizer said it would not release any doses until approval had been given.
Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr, Prof Openshaw said he expected an announcement within a fortnight.