Britain's tight Covid restrictions could soon become a thing of the past after a 'game-changing' home-grown Oxford jab is expected to be approved on Monday.
The Government hopes enough doses will be available to inoculate those most vulnerable to the virus within a matter of weeks.
The UK's Vaccines Minister told The Sun on Sunday the massive effort had been heroic and displayed "the best of British at every stage".
World-leading scientists have worked round-the-clock to develop the jab within just nine months.
Now, regulators have been passed the full data package for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, reports the paper.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told The Sun on Sunday: “The heroic efforts of the team at the University of Oxford have paid off, with its home-grown vaccine shown to be effective in older people as well as young.
“From day one of the pandemic, people from across the nation have been working day and night to find a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine.
"We have seen the best of British at every stage, from our world-leading scientists working around the clock to carry out vital research, to builders and engineers constructing new facilities.
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“Manufacturers are boosting their capabilities and hundreds of thousands of people in every corner of the UK are taking part in clinical trials — developing, finding and preparing for a vaccine has involved us all.
“It has and continues to be a truly UK-wide effort and one which showcases what a fantastic nation we are.”
The first jabs are expected to be rolled out a week after the new drug gets the green light.
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The lead researcher at Oxford University, Professor Sarah Gilbert, said last week: “The regulators have to be given their time but I really hope that the moment isn’t too far off.”
Ministers have given £88million since the start of the pandemic to help accelerate the project.
The vaccines will be manufactured in Oxford and Newcastle with 100 million doses ordered by the Government.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which is already being deployed, it can be stored in a standard fridge rather than at -70C.
Patients will need two doses at a month apart, and around 1,200 GP surgeries are expected to be involved in the vaccination programme.
One government insider said: “A vaccine is the most valuable commodity we have. It will open up the economy.”
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