All vulnerable Brits could be vaccinated by the spring in a major boost to coronavirus -hit households.
The chief executive of the NHS said that all people in the ‘at-risk’ categories – including everyone over 50 – will get the jab in the coming months.
It means that up to 22 million could be inoculated in a matter of weeks, paving the way for restrictions to be loosened by Easter.
The comments will be a sharp relief as sobering new figures paint a stark picture in England.
Infections and hospitalisations have now surpassed the peak in April as Brits face a dangerous third wave of the disease.
Covid vaccine 'won't give UK herd immunity until summer' delaying return to normal life
Yesterday there were 41,385 new confirmed lab cases with 357 more deaths, an increase of 66%, The Mirror reported.
But Sir Simon Stevens said there was finally light at the end of the tunnel for “anxious, frustrated and tired” Brits.
Speaking at an NHS vaccination centre, he said: "We think that by late spring with vaccine supplies continuing to come on stream, we will have been able to offer all vulnerable people across this country Covid vaccination.
"That perhaps provides the biggest chink of hope for the year ahead."
England's hospitals now have more Covid-19 patients than at any point during first wave
The NHS has already began rolling out the Pfizer jab after it was approved only weeks ago. A second jab, made by Oxford-AstraZeneca, is expected to be approved imminently.
In what is seen as a major game-changer by officials, the Oxford jab is cheaper and easier to store than it’s already-approved rival.
Once approved, the NHS hopes to vaccinate around 200,000 people a week, expected to raise to a million by the middle of January, the Telegraph reported.
But experts have said that efforts need to ramp up to two million vaccinations a week to avoid a third wave.
In a new paper published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), scientists have warned ministers of the drastic steps that need to be taken.
The paper has been shared with the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and claims a devastating third wave is highly likely unless the current target of vaccines is doubled.
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