The UK became the first Western country to authorize a Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday, marking a pivotal moment in the global fight against coronavirus.
"We know the first batch of 800,000 [doses] is making its way to the country now... and we are expecting in the low millions, so up to 4 million doses, to be with us by the end of December," Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers told Sky News on Sunday.
Vaccinations to begin next week: The health official said 50 hospital hubs across the UK have already received their allocation of the vaccine, and that the distribution of the vaccine is "really well underway now." Covid-19 vaccinations are set to begin on Tuesday in England, Wales and Scotland.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20 million people or one-third of the UK population.
“Despite the huge complexities, hospitals will kickstart the first phase of the largest scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history from Tuesday. The first tranche of vaccine deliveries will be landing at hospitals by Monday in readiness," professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said in a news release on Sunday.
"Robust" authorization process: Cordery also addressed concerns regarding the safety of the jab, saying its "authorization and approval process has been incredibly robust."
"Yes, it has been shorter than other vaccine approval processes, but that's because everything all has been thrown at this all in one go, rather than the much more bureaucratic process we've been seeing with other vaccine approvals where perhaps the need has been less pressing," she added.
The head of Britain's medicines regulator also put out assurances on Sunday, saying the Pfizer/BioNTech jab is "as safe as any general vaccine."
"My main message is that the safety profile of the Covid-19 vaccine is really no different than any other vaccine -- you might have a mild symptom but it will probably disappear in a day or two, and nothing at all of serious nature," June Raine, head of the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), told the BBC.
Raine also explained health officials will carefully monitor people after having the vaccine.