A coronavirus vaccine could begin rollout across England in just 10 days’ time, it is reported.
Hospitals could receive the first doses of the jab created by Pfizer/BioNTech the week after next, according to The Guardian.
One senior hospital executive was told to expect the first deliveries on December 7, with staff vaccinations to begin the following week.
However, this timeframe will depend on whether the jab – which early results found to be 95 per cent effective against Covid-19 – is approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
No date has yet been confirmed by NHS England for the deployment of any jab as there are still multiple stages to complete before the green light can be given.
However, it is also understood that 10 days would be a reasonable time frame should the vaccine be approved imminently, as is expected.
On November 20, the Health Secretary said he had formally asked the MHRA to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in the UK.
Matt Hancock hailed it as “another important step forward in tackling this pandemic”.
But he said while the regulator’s approval would see a rollout ready to start next month, there is “still a long way to go”.
The medicines regulator confirmed on Monday that it had received the necessary data to progress its review of the world-leading candidate.
The Guardian also reported the Pfizer vaccine will be given to NHS staff first due to its short shelf life and the logistical difficulties involved in its transportation.
The jab must be stored at -70C until the day it is used – a temperature far beyond the reach of standard hospital refrigerators.
When it comes to administering the shot, interim guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has placed older care home residents at the front of the queue followed by health and social care workers, who are on equal footing with the over-80s.
People aged 18 or older who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable will now be considered the same priority as those aged 70 and over, including those with conditions such as blood, bone or lung cancer, chronic kidney disease and Down’s Syndrome.
However, the JCVI’s guidance also states the final decision on how health and social care workers would be prioritised would depend on the vaccine’s characteristics.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer jab and expects 10 million doses by the end of the year.
The Oxford jab has also been sent to the MHRA for approval.
Senior health officials previously said GPs in England will be given 10 days’ notice before any Covid vaccine rollout begins.
A letter from Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s medical director of primary care, and Ed Waller, NHS England’s director for primary care, also thanked GPs for their efforts during the pandemic and praised their “fantastic response” to setting up vaccination sites.