Rolling off the production line in thousands of tiny bottles – new footage shows the vaccine that could end the Covid misery engulfing the planet.
Drug giant Pfizer has already manufactured “ several hundred thousand doses ” of the vaccine at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
They are stored ready for deployment worldwide if clinical trials are successful, and regulators deem it safe and effective.
The US giant hopes to make 100 million doses available this year, of which 40 million are destined for the UK – a figure that will be eclipsed by the 1.3 billion doses the company intends to manufacture in 2021.
Each patient who receives the vaccine will need two doses.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday today, Pfizer UK boss Ben Osborn said: “ It was great to see the first bottle roll off the production line.
“ It gave me a great smile to see all of this work culminating in a product. ”
Hundreds of thousands of doses of a possible Covid-19 vaccine have been prepared by a factory in Belgium
UK Pfizer boss Ben Osborn said: It was great to see the first bottle roll off the production line. It gave me a great smile to see all this work lead to a product ‘
Pfizer, which works with German company BioNTech, is currently conducting a trial in 44,000 people and last week announced its intention to seek emergency approval of its vaccine in the United States in November.
This puts Pfizer in pole position in the race to launch a Covid vaccine.
Separately, Osborn said Pfizer’s laboratory in Sandwich, Kent, had unearthed drugs that could provide a potential cure for Covid-19.
It comes as it was reported today that the NHS is preparing to introduce a coronavirus vaccine shortly after Christmas.
UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam reportedly told MPs last week that the third stage trials of the vaccine created at the University of Oxford, which is produced by Astra Zeneca, could be rolled out in December, the Sunday Times reports.
According to the newspaper, he said: “We are not light years away. It’s not a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could roll out a vaccine soon after Christmas.
“It would have a significant impact on hospitalizations and deaths.”
Thousands of NHS staff must undergo training to administer a vaccine before the end of the year, the newspaper adds.
UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam reportedly told MPs last week that the third-stage trials of the vaccine created at the University of Oxford, which is produced by Astra Zeneca, could be rolled out in December, reports the Sunday Times.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure from furious big Tories to set a “ clear end date ” for local lockdowns.
Conservative Party figures have warned the prime minister he must announce a ‘strategy to bring life back to normal’, saying an indefinite cycle of localized shutdowns is not acceptable and will wipe out the economy.
The intervention came amid growing speculation that ministers may this week agree to new ‘super’ level three restrictions that would be imposed on areas of the country with the highest coronavirus infection rates.
Lockdown critics are on red alert after Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief science adviser, said last week that the draconian level three measures would not be enough to bring the R rate below the key number of 1.
He said friday the “ basic ” measures set out in the upper tier of restrictions, which include closing pubs and banning mixing households inside, “ are almost certainly not enough ” to bring the virus back under control.
But the prospect of even stricter rules being put in place by the government is likely to spark a backlash from the Conservatives.
Many Conservative MPs and peers believe the current model of local foreclosure is unsustainable in the long term.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative Backbenchers, said it was ‘unnecessary’ to rely on lockdowns to remove the virus.
He told the Sunday Telegraph: “If new restrictions on people’s lives are proposed, the government must set a clear end date and a strategy to get life back to normal.”
Lord Lamont of Lerwick, the former chancellor, said repeatedly imposing lockdowns and then lifting them was ‘deeply damaging to business and not really a strategy’.
Sir Bernard Jenkin, Conservative backbench MP, urged the government to put in place a ‘living with coronavirus’ policy.
He and five other Essex MPs have also called for increased financial support for businesses in level two zones.
A government spokesperson said: ‘We are keeping all measures under review and we do not want the restrictions in place for longer than necessary, but where the virus is spreading we need to take targeted action to save lives, protect the NHS, keep children in school and protect the economy ”.
The row over local lockdowns came as Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham accused Chancellor Rishi Sunak of being ‘the problem’ in the deadlock over moving the region to level three.
The feud between Number 10 and Labor mayor continued yesterday after Downing Street said new talks were set up for the weekend, but Mr Burnham’s office denied it was the case.
Mr Burnham and Conservative politicians in Greater Manchester oppose the imposition of Level 3 measures, with the mayor calling for increased financial support for workers and businesses.
He called for a return to the generosity of the original holiday program which saw the Treasury pay 80 percent of workers’ wages, but Mr. Sunak only offered a 66 percent subsidy for those whose companies have been forced to close by level three measures.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester told New Statesman magazine: ‘I think the problem now is, to a large extent, the Chancellor. I think he made some bad judgments all along.
Downing Street said a call was scheduled for Sunday morning after a message was left for Mr Burnham.
But a spokesman for the mayor said: “Nothing has been worked out yet”.
A Downing Street source replied: ‘No 10 contacted this morning to try to arrange a meeting with the Mayor of Manchester.
“We will continue to try to reach agreement on these difficult but necessary measures to protect the NHS and the people of Manchester.”
Mr Johnson on Friday threatened to impose measures on Greater Manchester without local support, warning that ‘time is running out’ and that ‘tragically more people will die’ every day of delay.