Boris Johnson 'very hopeful' about Covid vaccine, but not a 'slam dunk'

Boris Johnson has declared he is “very hopeful” about the coronavirus vaccine breakthrough, but warned today’s announcement was not a “slam dunk”.

The Prime Minister has urged the public to stick to Covid-19 rules despite pharmaceutical giant Pfizer detailing the vaccine results.

He said the Pfizer vaccine news was a sign the "scientific cavalry" was on its way, but stressed it was "very, very early days".

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus. Picture: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference the vaccine had cleared a "significant hurdle", but there were more to cross before it could be used.

He said: "The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine has been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results suggest it is proving 90 per cent effective at protecting people against the virus.

"But we haven't yet seen the full safety data, and these findings also need to be peer-reviewed.

"So we have cleared one significant hurdle, but there are several more to go before we know the vaccine can be used."

The UK Government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine - enough for about a third of the UK population.

"If the Pfizer vaccine passes all the rigorous safety checks and is proven to be effective, then we will begin a UK-wide NHS led programme of vaccine distribution," the Prime Minister said.

But he added: "We have talked for a long time, or I have, about the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the brow of the hill.

"And tonight that toot of the bugle is louder, but it is still some way off.

"And we absolutely cannot rely on this as a solution.

"The biggest mistake we could make now would be to slacken our resolve at such a critical moment."

The Prime Minister said the reproductive rate of the virus - the R value - was still above one and death numbers were rising.

He said he was optimistic about the UK’s prospects for next year, but added he did not want to “let people run away with the idea” that today’s news is a “slam dunk”.

"Irrespective of whether there is a vaccine on the way or not we must continue to do everything possible right now to bring the R down," he said.

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