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The coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer could be approved for distribution in the UK by the end of this week, it has been reported.

Regulators are about to start a formal appraisal of the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech SE, with the NHS ready to administer doses to those most at risk from Covid-19.

Last week the UK formally asked its medical regulator, the MHRA, to assess the suitability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is one of two proven to be effective and now going through safety checks.

Britain has ordered 40 million doses and expects to have 10 million doses, enough to protect 5 million people, available by the end of the year if regulators approve it.

The Telegraph reports that the vaccine, produced in the US, could be approved in the UK before the States.

(Image: REUTERS)

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The positive vaccine news comes after it was confirmed that there will be a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions "for a small number of days" over Christmas.

This will allow a limited level of mixing between households across the UK, the Westminster Government has said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to set out the basis of plans for the festive period on Monday, as well as detailing a new tougher three-tier system for England when its national lockdown ends on December 2.

Older people will get the vaccine first
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Over-80s could start getting the jab from mid-December
(Image: Getty Images)

But Mr Johnson will be unable to say how many households will be allowed to mix over Christmas and for how many days restrictions will be relaxed for until a later date, the PA news agency understands.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove met with leaders of the devolved administrations over the weekend when they "endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days".

But the public will be "advised to remain cautious" and told that "wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact", a statement from his department said.

The Cabinet Office said talks are continuing to finalise the agreement, including over travel arrangements, but that it is hoped the conclusion will come "this week", while the Scottish Government said "no agreement has been reached".