UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cautiously welcomed the promising results from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and warned people not to rely on this news as a solution as it is still “very, very early days”.
Addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Road here on Monday, Johnson urged the British public not to “slacken” their get to the bottom of as it is still “very, very early days”, even as he confirmed that the United Kingdom had pre-ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for approximately a third of the United Kingdom population, taking into consideration that two doses every are required.
“The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine has been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results propose it is proving 90 per cent effective at protecting people against the virus. But we haven’t yet seen the full safety data, and these findings also wish to be peer-reviewed,” said Johnson.
“We have talked for a very long time, or I have, approximately the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the forehead of the hill, and tonight that toot of the bugle is louder. But it is still some way off. And we absolutely cannot rely on this as a solution,” he said.
He reiterated that it is “an important” not to overdo things and follow the lockdown rules strictly until December 2, after which England is set to revert to a tiered lockdown system.
“We cannot let our enthusiasm (approximately a vaccine) run absent with us. It is more imperative now than ever that we follow the basics,” said the prime minister.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, who joined Johnson at the briefing, said he was once “hopeful” that the first vaccine could be seen by Christmas after Pfizer’s announcement earlier on Monday that its vaccine candidate has proven 90 per cent effective in a large trial.
“This can be a very important scientific breakthrough. I am sure of that. I am hopeful on account of all that, but not yet sure that we could begin to see some vaccine by Christmas… I think we must be optimistic but we need to wait and see how vaccine manufacture goes,” said Prof Van-Tam.
“Alas, the death figures are tragically rising, running at an average of over 300 a day – sadly double where they were 24 days ago. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has risen from just over 10,000 two weeks ago to almost 13,000 on November 5, and we are heading towards the levels of the preceding peak,” said Johnson, as the experts ran through the statistics with him.
Meantime, on Tuesday UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the National Health Service (NHS) is able to start providing the new coronavirus vaccine “as fast as safely imaginable”, with vaccination clinics to be open seven days a week.
Hancock told the BBC: “We still appeal this morning for people’s patience, firstly to follow existing rules. Because this is still a lethal disease and this isn’t over yet.
“Even once we start to roll it out, we still wish to look after ourselves, look after our community by following the rules and being careful to stop the spread of transmission.” The main focus of Johnson’s briefing on Monday was once on the mass testing rolled out in Liverpool on Friday, which the prime minister said were being widely taken up in the city and urged others to also come forward and get tested for “your friends, for your relatives, for your community”.
He confirmed that the government is going beyond the city-wide pilot and sending out hundreds of thousands of rapid lateral waft tests to native authorities correct across England and other parts of the UK.
“We’re also working with universities to set up, as soon as imaginable, similar mass testing capacity for students up and down the country,” Johnson added.
His comments came as a further 21,350 coronavirus cases were reported in the United Kingdom on Monday, together with 194 deaths, taking the country’s death toll towards 49,000.