It is not yet the end of the pandemic, but the announcement by Pfizer/BioNTech that their vaccine has been 90% successful in the vital large-scale trials has got even the soberest of scientists excited.
Most of us will not be vaccinated by Christmas, but it is possible the first shots will be given before the end of the year. The World Health Organization has said health and care workers should be first in line, but some countries including the UK may want to vaccinate their elderly populations first, as long as it appears the vaccine works well in that age group and has no significant side-effects.
“I very much welcome the news that it appears for the first time that a coronavirus vaccine can provide protection against disease, which is hugely important for public health,” said Prof Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford vaccine group, which at one time looked as though it might be the first to declare efficacy results.
There is one downside to overcome. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs ultra-cold chain. That means freezers that can store it at -80C (-112F). Low-income countries do not have them, although UN organisations are already working on supply in case it is necessary.