Vaccine breakthrough offers tentative hope, but caution remains watchword, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed news of a coronavirus vaccine breakthrough which can prevent more than 90 per cent of people getting COVID-19 but warned caution is needed as the detail of the vaccine and the logistics of any delivery are worked out.

Developers Pfizer and BioNTech have tested the vaccine on 43,500 people in six countries and now plan to apply for approval to use it by the end of the month. South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw said challenges were still ahead with it.

“We were first made aware of preparations to deliver a vaccine to the most vulnerable people in the UK last week, and it is welcome we now have confirmation the trials have shown this vaccine provides not only protection from the virus, but it is otherwise entirely safe.

“The challenge now is to work out exactly what kind and length of immunity this vaccine will offer, and how the logistics of meeting the orders requires will be handled. It should be emphasised the whole process, including distribution, will take many months even if all goes perfectly.

“For now we await the outcome of further safety tests and the detail of the protection offered. I note 30 million doses have been ordered by the UK Government, and we now require a four-nation agreement on how to take forward the logistics and ensure the most vulnerable are protected.

“This breakthrough re-emphasises the need to keep transmission rates low pending the delivery of the vaccine. I would urge the Executive to consider carefully its next steps with that in mind.”