MEDICAL and civic leaders have praised “the beginning of the end” as plans to roll a Covid vaccine next week have been approved.

A Hampshire MP and Southampton researcher have shared their joy following the news that the UK is the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine.

The vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech will begin to pave the way for vaccination to start next week in the country.

A Southampton researcher has said the news is a "huge landmark" in the global efforts to address this pandemic, adding that regulators have been "satisfied" with the results.

Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, told the Daily Echo: “This is excellent news and a huge landmark in the global efforts to address this pandemic.

“The regulators have clearly been satisfied with the data presented to them.

“The Pfizer vaccine does require storage at around -70C, which will pose significant logistical challenges for all countries that choose to use it.

“These are not insurmountable but certainly challenging.”

The jab has been shown in studies to be 95 per cent effective and works in all age groups.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20m people.

Around 10m doses will be available for use in the UK shortly for priority groups, including healthcare workers.

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith has described the news a "fantastic".

He said: "Everyone involved should be justifiably proud.

"We live in the best country in the world and once again we have demonstrated why.

"We know this is not the end of this awful pandemic but at last, it really is the beginning of the end.”

Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test said yesterday's vaccine news is "very good news indeed".

"Hopefully we will be able to start vaccinating some of our key workers and vulnerable people soon," he said.

"However it may still be a while until the general population can take up a vaccine and it's important we all stick to social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing rules for now."