'There are still going to be problems if people relax too soon', warns Bristol University vaccine expert

Adam Finn
Professor Adam Finn.

A coronavirus vaccine is due to be given to people for the first time next week.

The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in the UK and will be given out in 50 hubs around the country next week - including at Southmead Hopsital in Bristol.

But there are many people who have questions around the vaccine, from who will have it first to how safe it is.

And then there’s the question on everyone’s lips - how long it may take before life returns to something resembling ‘normal’.

To answer some of those questions, ITV News West Country presenter Jonty Messer spoke with Bristol University Professor Adam Finn.

Professor Finn has been part of the panel advising the Government on the vaccine - here’s what he had to say.

  • Watch the full interview below

How is 'who gets the vaccine' decided?

Professor Finn said: “The way it’s going to be done is by targeting the limited amount of vaccine we have at the people who are at the highest risk, to protect them and to reduce the number of cases of severe disease and deaths that we’re seeing.”

Professor Finn told ITV News West Country this means people who are elderly are at the top of the queue, along with people who are at high risk of exposure - for example, frontline healthcare workers - and people with underlying illnesses.

When will the impact of the vaccine begin to be felt?

While Professor Finn said we are “at the beginning” of a journey which will ramp up, there’s hope the impact of the vaccine could be felt soon.

He said: “By targeting people who are at the highest risk, we should see an impact in the reasonably near future on the pressure on the health services - and that is something which has been driving a lot of the restrictions we’ve been seeing.

“So in that sense, I think we could see an impact in the relatively near future.”

The Pfizer vaccine will start to be given out in the UK next week

But he said it’s going to “take much longer” to stamp out the virus completely, adding: “I think it’s really important that people understand that this initiation of vaccination in high risk people does not in any way change the need for the precautions that have been put in place to try to keep the pandemic under control.

“There are still going to be rises in cases and there are still going to be problems if people relax too soon.

“So for the winter months I think we still have to hunker down and behave as if there was no vaccine.

“Maybe next year, in the spring and the summer, we’ll be able to see a major change that will reduce that risk.”

The vaccine has been created quickly - but it is safe

Professor Finn moved to reassure people over the safety of the vaccine.

He said: “This is unprecedentedly fast, although it’s been done not by failing to do the things that we normally do but just by doing everything by working around the clock and working in parallel and working together.

“So I think the information we’ve got now is pretty much what we have whenever a new vaccine arrives.”