Britain could begin immunising against the coronavirus as early as next week, according to a media report, as Australia eyes deploying four vaccines in early 2021.
The Financial Times reports the UK is poised to approve the jab developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and deliveries could begin within hours of authorisation.
The first immunisations could take place from December 7, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine which was the first to publicly announce it had been found to be about 95 per cent effective against the virus.
The UK government has also targeted to begin rolling out the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine before Christmas after asking the regular to assess it.
Britain has secured 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which is expected to undergo a second human trial after questions were raised about its initial results.
Meanwhile Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia could begin its immunisation program against COVID in early 2021 with potentially four vaccines.
Mr Morrison said Australia had heavily invested in vaccines developed by Novavax, Pfizer, AstraZeneca (Oxford University) and the University of Queensland which he said should roll out in the first quarter of 2021.
He was speaking via video link to NSW party faithful and key Liberal leaders at the party’s state council meeting on Saturday, saying Australia was in an enviable position on both health and economic fronts.
“Net debt as a share of the economy will peak at half of what it is in the United Kingdom, a third of what it is in the US and a quarter of what it is in Japan,” he said.
“When you look at the debt situation that we currently face, where we are sitting in a position which is still the envy of the rest of the world.”
Speaking from isolation at The Lodge because of his recent trip to Japan, Mr Morrison said the economic impact of global lockdowns had created an economic crisis “45 times worse” than the Global Financial Crisis just over a decade ago.
Deaths in the UK – which have passed 58,000 – were more than the number of lives lost during the blitz in the Second World War, Mr Morrison said.
“Our relative success here in Australia sometimes shields us from the sheer scale of the devastation that has occurred elsewhere around the world,” he said.
The UK’s infection tally is currently the fifth highest in the world with 1,609,131 cases and more than 58,000 deaths.
By comparison Australia’s coronavirus death toll remains at 907 and nearly 28,000 infections, according to the John Hopkins University tally.
On Saturday, there were two locally-acquired virus cases recorded, both attributed to the Parafield cluster in Adelaide, now at 33 cases.
Another 10 cases were reported in quarantining travellers – eight in NSW and one each in Queensland and the ACT.
Victoria has effectively eradicated the virus with a 29th consecutive day of no new cases and zero active cases. “COVID-normal” rules now apply, including the wearing of face masks in busy public areas.
Over the weekend British Prime Minister Boris Johnson named Nadhim Zahawi, currently a junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.
On Friday (local time), the government asked the regulator to assess AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for a possible rollout.
Britain said on November 20 it had formally asked its medical regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, to assess the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for its suitability, the first step in making it available outside the US.