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Vaccine ‘milestone’ announced

10 November 2020

Vaccine ‘milestone’ announced

Yesterday’s preliminary results announced by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech that their new vaccine is 90% effective in stopping the coronavirus have been heralded as representing a ‘huge milestone’ in treating the pandemic.

This is certainly welcome news. Some government scientists and medical officers have even suggested that Britain could be heading back to normal life by the spring, although there is surely a long road ahead.

Scientists still have to peer review the full data of the trials before the vaccine gains approval. The long-term efficacy of the treatment has to be determined, as well as its effectiveness on older people.

Pfizer and BioNTech anticipate supplying 10 million doses to Britain by the end of the year. Each person requires two doses three weeks apart, and the vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees C until the day of use, requiring specialist freezers.

There will need to be a careful rollout of the vaccine, beginning with frontline health professionals, key workers and vulnerable groups, and there will be logistical challenges in implementing such a massive inoculation programme.

For some time, then, people must still exercise caution and follow safety measures to protect themselves and others from infection, including wearing face masks, washing hands and socially distancing. Indeed, during a press conference last night to discuss these developments, prime minister Boris Johnson emphasised that it was “very, very early days.”

In the meantime, there will continue to be demand for equipment and services to create and maintain facilities for testing and mass vaccination programmes, from temporary buildings and drive-through centres, to power generation, lighting and crowd control products. So hirers still have a central role to play in supporting them.

Let's hope that this is indeed a first major step in reaching a new normality.

Photo: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

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