UK orders health service to be ready for vaccine by December

© Reuters. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the House of Commons Chamber, in London

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government has asked the National Health Service to be ready to deploy any COVID vaccine from the start of December and it will then roll it out, starting with the most vulnerable, the health minister said on Tuesday.

Matt Hancock told Sky News that there were many hurdles still to clear and the government would not deploy the shot until it was confident in its clinical safety.

News on Monday that a vaccine from Pfizer (NYSE:) and BioNTech was more than 90% effective sparked a surge in financial markets around the world, a rare piece of good news in the fight against a disease that has killed more than a million people.

Britain expects to have 10 million doses of the vaccine available by the end of the year.

“I’ve asked them (the NHS) to be ready from the start of December,” he said.

“Of course there are many hurdles that need to be gone over and we haven’t seen the full safety data and obviously that is critical and we won’t deploy a vaccine unless we can be confident in its clinical safety.”

He added that he did not know when there would be an update on the trial results of a vaccine being produced by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

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