The head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, Kate Bingham, has told the BBC that her "gut feel" is that Brits will be able to get away on summer holidays next year.
Bingham’s comments came as 90-year-old Margaret Keenan on Tuesday (8 December) became the first person to be administered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Bingham said it was her belief that life would start to return to some kind of normality by the summer.
"My gut feel is that we will all be going on summer holidays," she said. "It’s likely those people most at risk will be vaccinated through to April, and then the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and Department for Health will then consider how to broaden out the vaccinations to other adults.
"I think by the summer, we should be in a much better place to get on planes. I don’t think we’re ever going to get away from this virus, so we’re going to have to maintain sensible hygiene, washing hands and so on.
"But I would like this vaccine to become as routine as an annual flu jab, and that we manage it rather than get bowed down by it."
Bingham said the UK had rights to seven vaccines, one of which has been approved. Two, she said, would likely be approved soon, with a further two in phase three trials.
She said the UK had a strong vaccine portfolio, that included contingency plans for any hitch with the UK’s own Oxford University and AstraZeneca jab.
"I am optimistic the Oxford vaccine will get approved," said Bingham. "And because of what we’ve put in place, in terms of our industrial legacy, we will be much better positioned for the future for generating new vaccines as and when we need them."
Bingham added the UK was "probably the most well-prepared country in the world" to deploy vaccines, stressing people would get a jab "as soon as it is physically possible".
A vaccine has long been considered the most likely way out of the Covid crisis, and a safe resumption of international travel without onerous restrictions, certification or entry requirements.