he 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.
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.”
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.