UK appoints vaccines minister to oversee COVID inoculations

By JILL LAWLESS Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — The British government has appointed a vaccines minister as it prepares to inoculate millions of people against the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Conservative lawmaker Nadhim Zahawi will oversee the biggest vaccine program in decades. The U.K. medicines regulator is assessing two vaccines, one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

The Guardian newspaper reported Saturday that hospitals were told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot the week of Dec. 7.

The prime minister said this week that officials hope to inoculate "the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter." But he warned "a hard winter" of restrictions comes first.

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