Healthcare providers will be able to source products from manufacturers like BioNTech/
The move is set to allay fears of richer people being given priority access to a vaccine over those less well off.
Healthcare providers will be able to source products from manufacturers like BioNTech/Pfizer and Astrazeneca/Oxford to sell to customers, but any such orders will be put at the ‘back of the queue’, according to government sources
A source told
The Department of Health said it had a deal for 350 million vaccine doses from six separate developers, which would be more than enough to meet the needs of the entire UK population.
A spokesman confirmed it would be available for free on the NHS to everyone eligible, with those most at risk to be the first to benefit.
It comes just days after one of England’s top health officials admitted millions of people could miss out on the best vaccines because they must be given out as soon as possible.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, one of the deputy chief medical officers, said speed is of the essence and the country must not ‘let the perfect become the enemy of the good’.
The people most vulnerable to Covid-19, such as the elderly and those with cancer, must be given the first quality vaccine that becomes available in a bid to stop the epidemic, he said.
This, scientists admit, will likely mean millions of people get a less-than-perfect vaccine, but getting it early would save more lives than waiting around for a better one.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced this week that their jab may be 90 per cent effective and could be available to the public as soon as next month, sparking a drive to work out who will get the jab first, how it will be given out and when it will arrive.
People wearing face coverings queue for a coronavirus test at a centre in Liverpool
One of the leading scientists behind that vaccine claimed yesterday it will ‘bash the virus over the head’ and end the pandemic.
Billionaire Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of German firm BioNTech, said: ‘If the question is whether we can stop this pandemic with this vaccine, then my answer is: yes.’
But scientists globally – and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – have cautioned the jab will not be a silver bullet because there are still no guarantees it will work, even though the preliminary news from the trial was a light at the end of the tunnel.
There are still a number of unanswered questions, including whether the jab works in older people – considering most of the trial volunteers were young and healthy.
Full data is expected within the next three weeks, Mr Şahin said. It is expected to be able to prevent illness but whether the jab can stop people carrying the coronavirus and spreading it to others may not be known for a year, he admitted.