The UK government believes a coronavirus vaccine could be ready to be rolled out before Christmas, according to a Times of London report.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has bought access to more than 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, along with millions of doses from other companies.
Pfizer's CEO said this week that the company was not on course to deliver a verdict on the effectiveness of its vaccine this month, extending the previous timetable.
Grim figures published Thursday estimated that about 96,000 people a day were being infected with the coronavirus in England last week, with the infection rate doubling since earlier in October.
It places Johnson under intense pressure to introduce further restrictions to limit the spread.
British officials believe a coronavirus vaccine could be ready to be rolled out before Christmas, according to a report from The Times of London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has secured access to more than 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, along with millions more from other companies that officials say may prove successful in immunizing people against the virus.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla warned this week that the company was not on course to deliver a verdict on the effectiveness of its vaccine by the end of October, having previously indicated it would be able to.
Nonetheless, British officials seem confident the Pfizer vaccine could clear the final stages of testing within a few weeks or months and be ready for distribution in December, The Times reported.
The vaccine would most likely be distributed among older, more vulnerable people first, according to the report.
It comes as grim figures, from an Imperial College study published on Thursday, estimated that 96,000 people a day were being infected with the coronavirus in England last week, with the rate of infection doubling from earlier in the month.
Health officials also reported a further 310 deaths on Wednesday.
The numbers place significant pressure on Johnson to introduce stricter restrictions, with much of England still living under relatively loose "Tier 2" restrictions, which allow people to go to restaurants, pubs, and cafés.
"These interim findings paint a concerning picture of the situation in England, where we're seeing a nation-wide increase in infection prevalence, which we know will lead to more hospitalizations and loss of life," said Paul Elliott, a professor of epidemiology and public-health medicine at Imperial College London.
"We're also detecting early signs that areas which previously had low rates of infection are following trends observed in the country's worst-affected areas.
"Now more than ever we must all work together to curb further spread of the virus and avoid subsequent overwhelming of the health service."
A senior Cabinet minister this week acknowledged that families might be prevented from gathering at Christmas, warning that the second spike the UK was experiencing would probably last well into next year.
"We've got to be realistic that if we seeing these trends continuing right through to December, then Christmas in its fullest sense won't be possible for any of us this year, and perhaps coming to terms with that now is the right approach to take," Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, told ITV.
"It doesn't mean we can't have Christmas, but extended gatherings may not well be possible from the picture that is emerging," he said. "I do think we're in this for the long haul."
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