"THIS is the breakthrough we have all been waiting for."

An experimental vaccine that can offer 90% protection against Covid-19 has been hailed by a Southampton MP as "the beginning of the end" for the deadly virus.

It has been developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, who have described its arrival as a "great day for science and humanity".

Daily Echo:

The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

Its initial success is being described as a major victory in the battle against a virus that has killed more than one million people, battered the world's economy and turned daily life upside down.

Last night Royston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton Itchen, said: “This is the breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for.

"While this doesn’t herald the end of Covid-19 and a return to our normal lives it most certainly is the beginning of the end.

"The British government has already bought 40 million doses of the vaccine, which means that when it's ready to be rolled out the UK will be in a good position to begin a vaccination programme.

"This really is a very good day in what has been a very bleak eight or nine months.”

Dr Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, added: "The news of an effective and safe vaccine is heartening, particularly as we experience this lockdown period.

"It's very good news at the end of a year that hasn't seen much of that."

Daily Echo:

The vaccine involves injecting a patient with part of the virus’s genetic code in order to train their immune system. Two doses are needed three weeks apart but clinical trials have shown that 90% protection can be achieved seven days after the first dose.

Pfizer believes million of doses will be available by the end of the year, with 1.3billion by next year.

Dr Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive, said: “We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”

Downing Street says ten million doses will be available in the UK the end of 2020 if the vaccine is approved by regulators.

Priority will be given to care home residents and staff, followed by the over-80s and health and social care workers.

Dr Debbie Chase, director of public health at Southampton City Council, said: "I welcome the announcement that we are closer to offering a Covid-19 vaccine.

"Whilst we await final evaluation, it’s really important that people continue to follow the national restrictions, and remember to isolate if you are symptomatic or a contact of someone who has Covid-19.

"Getting tested is equally important to stop the spread of the virus, so be sure to book a test online at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 111.”