The World Health Organisation has warned there will not be enough vaccine stock to prevent more surges in coronavirus cases over the next three to six months.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme, made the stark warning during a social media event as he called on people to maintain social distancing to restrict the spread of Covid-19.
He said: “We are not going to have sufficient vaccinations in place to prevent a surge in cases for three to six months.”
His comments on Wednesday came after the UK became the first country in the world to approve a Covid-19 jab from Pfizer and BioNTech.
The vaccine, which studies have shown is 95 per cent effective and works in all age groups, will be rolled out in the UK from next week.
The European Union has criticised Britain’s rapid approval of Pfizer’s vaccine, saying its own procedure is more thorough.
In an unusually blunt statement, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is in charge of approving Covid-19 vaccines for the EU, said its longer approval procedure was more appropriate as it was based on more evidence and required more checks than the emergency procedure chosen by the UK.
The agency said it would decide by 29 December whether to provisionally authorise the vaccine from US drugmaker Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech. The vaccine is set to be reviewed by a panel of experts a week earlier before the FDA decides whether to authorise its use in the US.
Moderna, one of the front-runners in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, has applied for emergency authorisations both in the US and the EU after full results from a late-stage study showed its vaccine was 94.1 per cent effective with no serious safety concerns.
Additional reporting by Reuters