A vaccine a developed by the University of Oxford is set to be approved within days of Christmas, according to senior Whitehall sources.
The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is believed to be set to authorise the vaccines on December 28 or 29 after final data is provided to the regulator on Monday.
Football stadiums and other sites across the country will then be opened from the first week of January, to allow mass vaccinations on a scale never seen before in the UK, according to the Telegraph.
The UK has secured 100 million doses of the jab, four million of which are immediately available, allowing a major expansion in the NHS vaccine programme across the country.
Unlike the Pfizer jab, the Oxford vaccine can be stored in regular refrigerators, meaning it can be administered far more easily, from thousands of sites across the UK.
On Oxford/AstraZeneca being licensed before the end of the year, Jeremy Hunt, the former Tory health secretary, said: “It will make a massive difference because the doses we have of the Pfizer vaccine will keep us going until the end of January.
Detailed new data from phase one and two clinical trials shows the vaccine stimulates a broad range of antibody and T-cell responses, and the paper states that it “strongly supports” the team’s move to a two-dose regimen in ongoing phase three trials.
Findings from phase three trials published in The Lancet earlier this month had previously found that the jab is 90 per cent efficacious if administered at a half dose and then at a full dose, or 62 per cent effective if administered in two full doses.
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