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Pfizer's Covid vaccine heading to UK by end of year is 95% effective

Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine is more effective than initially thought, the company says.

It has also passed a number of safety tests allowing it to meet the criteria needed for emergency authorisation – meaning it could be rolled out this year.

Having previously said its candidate was 90% effective, the pharmaceutical giant has now revised that figure to 95% – bringing it virtually level with the Moderna vaccine, which also announced early data on its jab in recent days.

Some 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are due to arrive in the UK by the end of the year, with the NHS ready to begin vaccinations next month.

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Pfizer’s interim results last week provoked an outpouring of relief and joy from medical experts, who said the news could hail a return to normal life in the coming months.

Its initial data was based on the first 94 volunteers to develop Covid-19.

But further figures released on Wednesday, upping the effectiveness by 5%, are based on the first 170 cases of the virus in the clinical trial.

The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised, the company says.

The UK has secured 40 million doses in total of the vaccine, with 10 million due in the country this year if the jab is approved. However, two doses are needed per person, meaning that is some way off the number required to immunise the entire population.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the NHS will be ready by December 1 to roll out any jab.

On Tuesday, Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said the firm is preparing to file for emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The company said the vaccine has been shown to produce both an antibody and T-cell response in the body to fight coronavirus.

Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion in 2021.

Changes to the Human Medicine Regulations announced in October will allow the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise temporary supply of vaccines, if one becomes available before 2021.

This means that if a vaccine is found to meet the safety, quality and effectiveness standards by the MHRA then vaccinations can begin without needing to wait for the European Medicines Agency.

Meanwhile, the UK has ordered five million doses of the Moderna jab, and also awaits the results of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine study – which is due to report soon.

This is a breaking story – more to follow.

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MORE : Moderna Covid-19 vaccine: everything you need to know about the ‘95% effective’ jab

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