Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the House of Commons on Tuesday that the government does not know how many people in the UK will need the Pfizer vaccine.
Hancock said that in order to “stop the pandemic” they will need to know what proportion of the population they will need to reach.
The Health Secretary told MPs in the Commons, “The honest truth to that question is we don’t know what proportion of the population vaccination needs to reach in order for this to stop the epidemic.
“The reason we don’t know that is you can check in a clinical trial for the impact of the vaccine on protecting the individual… what you cannot check is the impact on the transmission of the disease by those people, because you have to have enough of the population, a significant proportion of the population, to have had the vaccine to understand that.
“This is the difference between a so-called disease modifying vaccine, which is testing how much it affects the disease an individual suffers if they get COVID-19, versus an epidemic modifying vaccine, which is the impact on the spread and transmission of the disease – and you can’t know that until after it has been rolled out and so we will monitor it very closely.”
Hancock said age and those working in health and social care are the two prime risk factors for the Pfizer vaccine.
He warned that the latest official figures have revealed that “the number of cases continues to rise,” and “we must play our part” in bringing the infection rate down.
Hancock said, “our ability to suppress the virus begins with testing for it,” and he added, that the NHS Test and Trace app is now approaching 20m downloads.
He said, “This historic expansion is just one part of our critical national infrastructure for testing.
“Just as we drive testing capacity on the existing technology, so too we have invested in the development of the new.
“I have been criticised with this obsession of new testing capacity, but we have not wavered from the task and we are now seeing the fruits of this effort.”
He made reference to the expanding of the mass testing programme in Stoke-on-Trent to Liverpool, which is being done the British military.
Hancock told MPs that the government are rolling out the scheme to a further 66 local authorities.
HE added, “Beat this virus we must, we can, and we will,” and hailed the progress of the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine.