How will the temperature of Pfizer affect the vaccination programme?
The vaccine must be stored at -70C to be effective, meaning it can only be delivered to GPs with the facilities to keep it at that temperature.
It will be difficult to administer in care homes. Deputy chief medical officer professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “This is a complex product. It is not a yoghurt that can be taken out of the fridge and put back in several times.”
The Scottish Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, has insisted they will deliver the vaccine to care home residents in Scotland before Dec 14, stating that her talks with Pfizer had revealed the vaccine can be transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours.
What other problems does the vaccination programme face?
On December 13, news that up to 40 per cent of care home staff may not have jab sparked new fears that the vaccine rollout may not be successful.
This research, from the National Care Association, suggested that as many as 20 per-cent of care workers are adamant they won’t receive the jab. Furthermore, a further 20 per cent of others who are unsure, and therefore, may follow their example.
Nadra Ahmed, a representative from the charity, revealed that “between about 17 and 20 per cent of staff in-services are saying they definitely won’t have it, and then you have the rest who are waiting to see. So, we are looking at potentially 40 per cent who decide not to have it.”
What about the new variant of coronavirus? Will the vaccine still protect us against this?
On December 14, in his address to Commons the Health Secretary announced a new variant of coronavirus has been identified in England.
However, Mr Hancock has said it is “highly unlikely” that the new variant will cause a more serious disease or compromise the vaccine.
In his address to the Commons, he shared: “I must stress at this point that there is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease and the latest clinical advice is that it’s highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine, but it shows we’ve got to be vigilant and follow the rules and everyone needs to take personal responsibility not to spread this virus.”