Covid vaccine news – live: Low uptake will mean harsh restrictions for longer, Van Tam says ahead of rollout

England’s chief medical officer has urged Britons to take the vaccine, warning a low uptake would lead to restrictions lasting for longer.

Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, said the “biggest programme of mass vaccination in the history of the UK” would start from next week, as he led a Downing Street press conference on the same day the UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus jab.

Standing next to the PM, Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, said the plan was for over-80s and people in care homes to get vaccinated first, together with “some of the frontline health and social care staff who are looking after them”.

The UK government authorised the first Covid-19 vaccine following approval by the the independent medicines agency for the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has concluded that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has met its “strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness” after months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts, a government spokesperson said

However, the breakthrough has been slightly tempered by concerns that the vaccine may not be able to be used in care homes because it needs to be kept so cold.

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