The government says the deals will ensure the UK has the best chance of protecting those at risk – if the vaccines are successful.
The UK has secured early access to 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.
Included in the figure are 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, the first agreement the two companies have signed with any government. This vaccine has reached Phase 2 trials.
The second deal is an agreement in principle for 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by Valneva, with an option to acquire a further 40 million doses if this vaccine is proven to be safe, effective and suitable.
Speaking during a visit to a school in Kent, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he cannot be “100% confident” that a coronavirus vaccine will be available this year or next year.
“Obviously I’m hopeful, I’ve got my fingers crossed but to say that I’m 100% confident that we will get a vaccine this year – or indeed next year – is, alas, just an exaggeration, we are not there yet,” he said.
The PM added: “It may be that the vaccine is going to come riding over the hill like the cavalry, but we just can’t count on it right now.”