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‘Starting gun’ for mass Covid vaccine roll-out could be fired in weeks, Matt Hancock signals
The starting gun for the Covid-19 mass vaccination programme in Britain could be fired in a "couple of weeks", Matt Hancock signalled today, after third stage trials showed that the Oxford vaccine works.
The Health Secretary also stressed that the country was now looking with "high confidence" at being able to start to get back towards a normal life after Easter.
After news that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is up to 90 per cent effective, regulators are now racing to give it approval for use.
A scientist is pictured working during a visit by Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (unseen), to Oxford Vaccine Group's laboratory facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, west of London on June 24, 2020, on his visit to learn more about the group's work to establish a viable vaccine against coronavirus COVID-19. (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If this all goes well in the next couple of weeks, then we are looking at the potential of starting the vaccination programme next month for this Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Pfizer vaccine.
"But in all cases, the bulk of the roll-out will be in the New Year.
"I know that people are absolutely desperate to understand the timescales of this.
"Crucially, I think that we have got to keep the virus supressed, using mass testing and the sorts of measures and responsibilities that we all have for the next few months but we are looking with high confidence now that, from after Easter, things can really start to get back to normal."
Gallery: Second wave of COVID-19 hits Europe (Photo Services)
Millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine will be ready for roll-out this year, with the vast majority of people getting it or another vaccine early next year, if they are approved by the regulators.
The military are on standby to deliver the jabs to GP surgeries, mass vaccination clinics and other centres.
Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.
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