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First batch of Covid-19 vaccines could arrive in Gib before Christmas

Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Gibraltar could receive its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines before this Christmas, the Gibraltar Government has confirmed.

This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hopes the UK will be able to start distributing Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccines to “those who really need it” before Christmas.

Gibraltar will procure its Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines through the UK and officials here are finalising preparations to ensure they can commence a vaccination programme for frontline and vulnerable people perhaps as early as December.

A spokesman from No.6 Convent Place said Gibraltar is gearing up to provide these vaccines on the basis of the information that the Gibraltar Government has currently been provided with by the UK.

The Pfizer vaccine was found to be 90% effective last week, following independent analysis in phase three trials. Phase three trials are the final stage of medical trials before commercial licensing and distribution.

In the first batch, Gibraltar is expecting to receive enough doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNtech to vaccinate potentially up to a fifth of the population.

The Gibraltar Government spokesman added that the final figure of how many Pfizer vaccines Gibraltar will receive is “not yet clear” but Gibraltar has already secured enough freezers to safely store tens of thousands of vaccines.

“We have procured capacity enough to store 80,000 vaccines at -70C from Belgium,” the spokesman told the Chronicle.

How soon Gibraltar receives the vaccine depends largely on progress in the UK.

On Monday, UK health minister Matt Hancock has warned that even if progress with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is made as quickly as possible, the majority of people in the UK will not be vaccinated until next year.

"Even if that comes through as fast as it possibly could, the vast majority of people will be, we'd expect, to be vaccinating in the new year," Mr Hancock told Sky News.

He said the UK Government was working hard to be able to roll-out the vaccine when it becomes available, adding that across Britain the different administrations hoped to agree a set of rules so that people could meet at Christmas.

"We're absolutely working to make Christmas as normal as possible," he said.

Mr Hancock added that the UK expects to start rolling out the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine just before Christmas if it is declared safe and effective.

"We're working very closely with the company," he told BBC TV.

"We'll be ready to roll it out as soon as it comes, we'll be ready from the first of December..., but more likely is that we may be able to start rolling it out before Christmas."

Asked how many vaccines Britain would need, he said it depended on how effective they were at preventing transmission.

A separate vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has not yet completed phase trials evaluation and testing and, until trials are complete, it is unknown whether the Gibraltar will procure any vaccines.

PA Media contributed reporting for this article.

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