The first doses of the coronavirus vaccine have arrived in hospitals in England.
Hundreds of thousands of doses arrived in the UK on Friday on refrigerated trucks from Belgium.
From there they were taken to specialist refrigerated storage facilities, at undisclosed locations, before finally being shipped to the 50 hospitals taking part in stage one of the rollout.
And the first pictures of vaccine arriving in an NHS hospital, released today, show a pharmacy technician from Croydon Health Services taking delivery at Croydon University Hospital of the first batch to be delivered to the area.
The UK has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to treat 20 million people in the coming months.
The doses will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs from Tuesday – with people aged 80 and over, care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk the first to receive the jab.
There are 50 hubs in the first wave of the vaccination programme in England, with more hospitals starting to vaccinate over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up.
The distribution of the vaccine across the UK is being undertaken by Public Health England and the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through systems specially adapted from those used for the national immunisation programmes.
It comes as Matt Hancock claimed that a second vaccine, made by Oxford University and AstraZeneca may be approved for use in the UK as soon as Christmas.
The Health Secretary suggested that the UK made jab could quickly follow the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and become the second to get the green light from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
He said “It may come before Christmas, it may come early in the new year.
On Sunday the UK’s chief medicine regulator said there was “no doubt” that the Covid vaccine approved in the UK is safe.
Mr Hancock also claimed a successful rollout would mean lockdown restrictions could end before March.
The Health Secretary’s optimistic prediction comes as hospitals are preparing to begin the first phase of the “largest-scale vaccination campaign” in the UK’s history.
GP surgeries in England have been told to start staffing COVID-19 vaccination centres by 14 December.