UK PM Boris Johnson cautiously welcomes ‘loud toot’ of vaccine bugle


London: United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cautiously welcomed the promising results from the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. However, Boris Johnson has warned people not to rely on this news as a solution as it is still ‘very, very early days’.

Addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Street here Monday, Johnson urged the British public not to ‘slacken’ their resolve. He confirmed that the UK had pre-ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for about a third of the UK population, taking into account that two doses each are required.

“The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine has been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results suggest it is proving 90 per cent effective at protecting people against the virus. But we haven’t yet seen the full safety data. These findings also need to be peer-reviewed,” said Johnson.

“We have talked for a long time, or I have, about the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the brow of the hill. Tonight that toot of the bugle is louder. But it is still some way off. And we absolutely cannot rely on this as a solution,” Johnson asserted.

The UK PM reiterated that it is ‘crucial’ not to overdo things and follow the lockdown rules strictly until December 2. After that England is set to revert to a tiered lockdown system.

“We cannot let our enthusiasm (about a vaccine) run away with us. It is more vital now than ever that we follow the basics,” said Johnson.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam was also present with Johnson at the briefing. He said he was ‘hopeful’ that the first vaccine could be seen by Christmas.

“This is a very important scientific breakthrough. I am certain of that. I am hopeful because of all that, but not yet certain that we could begin to see some vaccine by Christmas. I think we have to be optimistic but we have to wait and see how vaccine manufacture goes,” said Prof Van-Tam.

“Alas, the death figures are tragically rising, running at an average of over 300 a day – sadly double where they were 24 days ago. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital has risen from just over 10,000 two weeks ago to nearly 13,000 November 5. We are heading towards the levels of the previous peak,” lamented Johnson.

Johnson’s comments came as a further 21,350 coronavirus cases were reported Monday in the UK. A total of 194 deaths were reported taking the country’s death toll towards 49,000.