Ben Osborn, Pfizer UK manager, paid tribute to the experts and volunteers who have helped accelerate research. He said the announcement of the vaccine’s approval, “obviously has huge significance for society and indeed science around the world”. He added:”Many will feel it has been a long time coming but we must remind ourselves that it’s only since mid-January that the Covid-19 virus genetic sequence was actually identified, and here we are just over nine months later.
“Right from the very start we have always said that it will be science that brings us out of this crisis… we all sit here today feeling very reassured that science is now winning.”
About 800,000 doses of the vaccine are due to be delivered to Britain from its facility at Puurs, Belgium, in the coming days.
Mr Osborn said the company was not publicising the exact time and location of the first deliveries but promised the injections would be in government warehouses by the weekend.
He added that Pfizer was “absolutely on track to deliver up to 50 million doses globally in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021”. Mr Osborn also suggested the need to keep the vaccine extremely cold should not hinder its introduction.
He said: “At the point of administration and deployment by the NHS, our vaccine can be stored under normal refrigerated temperatures at 2-8C for five days.
“And that gives us the flexibility to reach the target populations identified this morning by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation over the months ahead.”
But he noted that other factors may complicate the process and it would ultimately be for the NHS to decide how the vaccine is deployed.
Mr Osborn said Pfizer would only be supplying the vaccine to the NHS for the foreseeable future, adding: “There are no plans as we sit here today to supply a Covid-19 vaccine through the private sector.”