The UK has become the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, and jabs could start as soon as next week.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA) on Wednesday (2 December) confirmed it had certified the vaccine safe.
The Department of Health (DoH) said the move followed "months of rigorous clinical travels and a thorough analysis of the data".
Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine is estimated to offer up to 95% protection against Covid-19.
The UK has ordered an initial 40 million doses, enough to immunise 20 million people, with the vaccine required to be administered in two doses.
A vaccine has long been seen as the best route out of the coronavirus crisis, which has gripped the world since February.
It remains to be seen, however, whether vaccine certification becomes a travel necessity, with several airlines and nations intimating they may demand proof of vaccination before allowing passengers to board or transit their borders.
It is understood care home residents, health and care staff, elderly people and those who are clinically vulnerable will be vaccinated as a priority.
The DoH has urged people to remain vigilant to the threats posed by coronavirus, and to continue to adhere to local and national Covid rules – such as maintaining social distance, wearing face masks and coverings where required, and self-isolating at such time as any symptoms, however mild, present.
Several other vaccines are under development, and could be approved soon – including one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, of which the government has ordered 100 million doses.
The travel industry was quick to take to Twitter to welcome the news.
It could be the double caffeine hit before gym this morning but I've got a proper bounce in my step today off the back of this vaccine news.— Lockie Kerr (@LockieTravels) December 2, 2020
The sooner we have as many vulnerable people vaccinated, the sooner life can begin to go back to normal again.
We have had 2 bumper weeks, demand is there and now expect further boost on this news. \uD83D\uDC4D\uD83C\uDFFC ✈️\uD83C\uDF0D\uD83D\uDE0E— Lisamcauley (@lisamcauley01) December 2, 2020