As European regulators approach a likely approval of Pfizer's vaccine, the UK is already starting to come to terms with the big question on everyone's mind - how safe is it.
Answering these questions fell on the shoulders of Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam, who explained to viewers that "I genuinely have said to my 78-year-old mum to have the vaccine."
In a live interview with the BBC on Thursday morning, Van Tam faced questions on the vaccine just a day after the UK announced that it had approved the Pfizer - BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19, becoming the first country in the world to have a clinically approved vaccine.
While a vast majority of the questions dealt with the implementation of the vaccine in the UK, certain topics dealt with the vaccine at large, potentially dealing with concerns in Europe and the US as well.
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Asked how quickly the vaccine would allow people to return to normal and hug their relatives, Van-Tam elaborated on how the schedule would impact protection.
"You should not expect the vaccine to be protecting you from infection fully until probably 7 to 10 days after the second dose," he explained. The vaccine will be administered in a two-dose schedule, with the second given at least 21 days later.
"Until we are properly confident of how the vaccine works and properly confident that disease levels are dropping, that even if you have had the vaccine you are going to have to continue to follow all the rules that apply a while longer," he says.
Regarding immunity, Van-Tam explained that he is confident it will be "quite a few months as an absolute minimum - and it could be longer".
According to Van-Tam, Europe's regulators are likely nearing a decision on authorisation for the Pfizer vaccine. "I don't think the US and the European regulators will be very many days behind us in authorising the Pfizer vaccine".
On Wednesday Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that Belgium would start vaccinating its population from 5 January if the EU gives the green light for the vaccine.
On Thursday, Belgium’s Public Health ministers met from 8:00 AM to discuss Belgium’s vaccination strategy, after an agreement was not reached the day before. The ministers are expected to announce their strategy at a press conference today.
The Brussels Times