“We hope that we will also have a COVID vaccination programme alongside that [the flu jab] and the arrangements are being put in place for the NHS to deliver that at scale,” Hancock told the Sky News broadcaster.
Although he stressed that “nothing is guarantee yet,” the health minister said there are “encouraging signs of hope” that a coronavirus vaccine could be available before the end of the year.
At least four COVID-19 vaccine developers — University of Oxford and AstraZeneca; Pfizer/BioNTech; Moderna; and the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology — announced in November that their candidates have produced a strong immune response during clinical trials, and had an effectiveness rate of more than 90 percent.
The UK government said on Monday that it had already secured 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccines, 40 million doses of the Pfizer candidate and five million doses of Moderna’s, as well as another 210 million doses from other COVID-19 vaccines that are in different phases of their clinical trials.
As of Thursday, the United Kingdom has recorded 1,453,256 positive cases for the novel coronavirus and 53,775 COVID-19 related deaths, which makes it the world’s fifth most-affected country by the disease after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.