Pfizer on Friday said that it was moving ahead with its request of asking the United States regulators to grant emergency approval of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, which has shown 95 per cent efficacy in a totality of two data sets released recently.
"If this all goes well in the next couple of weeks, then we are looking at the potential of starting the vaccination program next month for this Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Pfizer vaccine - but in all cases the bulk of the rollout will be in the New Year", Hancock told BBC Radio. This will be enough to vaccinate as many as 5 million people right away.
Separately, the coronavirus vaccinations in the USA will "hopefully" start in less than three weeks, Moncef Slaoui, Head of the government's Operation Warp Speed, said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Spain and Germany are the first European Union (EU) countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place said the Spanish Prime Minister (PM) Pedro Sanchez speaking at a news conference following the G20 summit, adding that a comprehensive vaccination campaign will start in January. If and when that happens, only high priority groups, like health care workers, are expected to have access.
Apart from the Pfizer vaccine, other jabs are also in the pipeline in the UK.
The Government has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has shown extremely promising results in Phase II trials, especially on the elderly.
Dr Moncef Slaoui, head of the USA vaccine programme, told CNN that the vaccine could be rolled out "maybe a day or two after approval, on the 11th or the 12th of December". Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, said the FDA would greenlight the inoculation programme any day after December 10.
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are the first drug makers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a vaccine, with their analysis showing a much better performance than most experts had hoped for from COVID-19 vaccines.
The US Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that it would meet on December 10 to discuss whether to authorize the shot, following a three week review period. However, the U.S. regulators could issue the final verdict in less than 24 hours after the meeting.
More than 200 coronavirus vaccine candidates are being tested around the world, while 12 are in the final stages of testing and validation.