Britain expects to have 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech's candidate COVID-19 vaccine available by the end of the year if regulators approve it, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Monday, following positive clinical trial results.
The spokesman said that Britain had now ordered 40 million doses of the candidate vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, one of six that the government has agreed supply deals for.
Pfizer Inc PFE.N said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the world's economy and upended daily life.
"In total we have procured 40 million doses of the Pfizer candidate vaccine with 10 million of those doses being manufactured and available to the UK by the end of the year if the vaccine is approved by the regulators," the spokesman said.
Johnson has placed England under a second national lockdown to contain a new wave of COVID-19 infections, but he has said that the prospects of a vaccine are one cause for optimism that the situation will improve by spring.
"The results are promising and while we are optimistic of a breakthrough we must remember there are no guarantees. We will know whether the vaccine is both safe and effective once the safety data has been published and only then can licensing authorities consider making it available to the public," the spokesman said.
"In the meantime the NHS (National Health Service) stands ready to begin the vaccination programme for those most at risk once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, before being rolled out more widely."