Lorries loaded with Pfizer Covid vaccine leave factory for UK in historic moment

Lorries filled with thousands of Covid-19 vaccines have left a Pfizer site headed for the UK, just hours after the Prime Minister announced a mass roll-out.

The historical moment comes as UK becomes the first to approve the injection after nearly a year of uncertainty.

Immunisation is due to begin next week and the jab will be given to vulnerable people initially.

Trucks have left Belgium with 800,000 doses of the vaccine, which will "help us reclaim our lives," according to Boris Johnson. Immunologist Arne Akbar said: “This is a momentous day.”

A nation worn down by Covid was tonight beginning to dream of a return to normal as NHS staff geared up to start vaccinations next week, reports the Mirror.

After regulators gave the green light to the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, refrigerated HGVs with 800,000 doses on board were seen heading to Britain – the first western country to approve it.

And a major London hospital trust is expected to deliver the first jab as early as 7am on Monday.

Vaccines are to be given to ­ care workers and people aged over 80 with an existing appointment.

British Medical Association council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul hailed the breakthrough after just a matter of months an “incredible achievement of modern science”.

He said: “Less than a year ago we hadn’t even heard of Covid-19, never mind a vaccination against it. It offers hope that we will start to bring the pandemic to an end.

“This is the first of several Covid-19 vaccines to be approved for use but it’s also the one that presents the greatest logistical challenges in terms of storage and immunising patients outside a hospital setting.

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"We need to make sure staff have the resources and support in place to turn this ­into an operational success.”

NHS Confederation chief ­executive Danny Mortimer added: “This is the starting klaxon for people readying to deliver the vaccine.

"Our stretched NHS faces a monumental effort now to roll out the vaccine quickly and effectively.”

British Society for Immunology president Professor Arne Akbar said: “This is a momentous day for us all. Covid-19 has impacted all our lives in so many ways and hope of an exit strategy has relied on a safe and effective vaccine. Today that hope has been realised.”

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Vaccination hubs have been set up at 50 hospitals which will be first to administer doses.

The jabs need to be stored at minus 70C and can only be brought out for five days.

NHS staff and armed forces personnel then face a huge challenge ­distributing them before they go off. During December doses will be transported to around 1,000 GP-led clinics.

Care homes residents will have to wait longer to be vaccinated because of the storage difficulties – despite them being in the first priority group eligible.

The jabs are distributed in frozen cases of 975 doses which are not yet approved to be broken up in to small numbers prior to ­distribution to care homes.

Once technical approval is given to split packs, “roving teams” could be deployed to vaccinate in care homes and vulnerable ­housebound people.

Mass vaccination centres will then be set up in all major cities including the London Nightingale Hospital.

The Medicines and Healthcare ­products Regulatory Agency granted ­emergency use ­authorisation yesterday, confirming the vaccine is 95% effective.

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