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First jabs in ‘days’ as Pfizer vaccine passes safety checks

Trial: US volunteer receives jab PICTURE: GETTY

JABS could be rolled out in days after Pfizer revealed its Covid vaccine has passed safety tests and is now thought to be 95 per cent effective.

The US drugs giant said latest data show the treatment works well regardless of people’s age, gender or race.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has been empowered to authorise a temporary supply without waiting for approval from its European counterpart.

And health secretary Matt Hancock has said the NHS will be ready to roll out any jab by December 1.

Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said the latest trial results were an important step towards unleashing the treatment to tackle the pandemic. ‘With hundreds of thousands of people around the globe infected every day, we urgently need to get a safe and effective vaccine to the world,’ he said.

Pfizer and partner BioNTech recruited tens of thousands of volunteers for their trial, with some given the vaccine and others a placebo. Out of 170 people who went on to get Covid, 162 were in the placebo group and only eight in the vaccine group.

The finding that the treatment is 95 per cent effective follows a previous estimate of 90 per cent, which was based on preliminary results.

The UK has secured 40million doses of the vaccine, with 10million due by the end of the year if the jab is approved. People will need two doses, meaning not enough vaccine has been secured for the entire population.

Another jab, from US firm Moderna, was shown this week by early data to be almost 95 per cent effective.

Britain has ordered 5million doses of that jab, and also awaits the results of trials of one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, with findings due to be revealed soon.

Britain’s Covid death toll, made up of people who died within 28 days of testing positive, rose by another 529 to reach 53,274 yesterday.

And separate official figures, based on data including mentions of the virus on death certificates, suggest there have been 68,000 deaths in total.