A VIROLOGIST from Queen’s University Belfast has welcomed news of a vaccination to fight against Covid-19, with Dr. Connor Bamford giving The Impartial Reporter his thoughts on the momentous news.

The first Covid-19 vaccine has been announced by German pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, which said it offers 90 per cent protection from the virus, based on its testing, to date.

The companies developing the vaccine plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people and no safety concerns have been raised. The experimental vaccine is in the final stages of testing.

Two vaccine doses are needed, three weeks apart, and the vaccine trials – undertaken in six countries – showed a 90 per cent protection rate was achieved seven days after the first dose; a success rate well within vaccine approval standards.

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

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Dr. Bamford said: “One of the strategies we really hope to use in the future is that it will be a safe and effective vaccine that will be able to prevent people getting sick.

"[Vaccines are] important in how we manage infectious diseases and this is a safe way to do so. We hope that this [vaccine] is possible for Covid-19, and of course, it's possible in Northern Ireland.”

Dr. Bamford affirmed that any vaccination used on the general public will be safe.

He said: “For a vaccine, we're really interested in looking forward, making sure these are safe and effective.

"They go through lots and lots of rigorous testing in the lab, and then people [are used in] preclinical testing, then we have these different phases: phase one, phase two, phase three, and phase four.

“Throughout these, we are always looking for any signs that they are unsafe – and any signs that they work.

"No vaccine would be taken forward through these different things, if there was any signs that they were making people sick, or if they weren't working.

"So we know that if they pass phase three, for example, they are safe, and they are effective.

"For nearly every single vaccine, there's nothing to worry about. All these things are very safe and effective, and certainly better than actually catching the disease that they're designed to prevent."

Virologists like Dr. Bamford have some worries about how Covid-19 will behave in the Winter.

He said: “One of the worries we have is that collision of Covid-19 and Winter will make things worse, in terms of our management of an epidemic, and also people's health.

"[We normally expect an] increased burden on the NHS and on people's health due to cold weather and things like inflenza.

"It's just unknown how Covid-19 will behave during the Winter, as we creep into Winter.

"We really hope that all the sort of measures we have in place will prevent any undue pressure on people’s health and the NHS, but, of course, we don't know,” Dr. Bamford told this newspaper.