MEDICAL experts have said "no corners have been cut" in approving Covid-19 vaccines and that the safety and health of the public will "always come first".

In a briefing at Downing Street this morning, top doctors and professors have spoken about the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, which was this morning approved by the UK and is set to be rolled out as early as next week.

They also said it was a "historic moment in a once-in-a-century pandemic".

It has a 95 per cent effectiveness rate and the UK has ordered 40 million doses.

Dr June Raine, head of the regulator which approved the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, said no corners had been cut in assessing its safety.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) chief told a Downing Street briefing: “The safety of the public will always come first.

“This recommendation has only been given by the MHRA following the most rigorous scientific assessment of every piece of data so that it meets the required strict standards of safety, of effectiveness and of quality.”

Dr Raine said a rolling regulatory process had been conducted as the vaccine was developed, but standards had been maintained.

“That doesn’t mean that any corners have been cut, none at all.”

She said experts had worked “round the clock, carefully, methodically poring over tables and analyses and graphs on every single piece of data”, and more than 1,000 pages of data had been examined.

Adoption of the Pfizer vaccine will provide “overwhelming benefit”, the chair of Commission on Human Medicine Expert Working Group has said.

Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed said they had been given “unprecedented access” to the raw data, including clinical trials and manufacturing processes.

“From this we can come to the conclusion that there is overwhelming benefit for this particular vaccine and therefore recommended to the MHRA that its use should be authorised,” he said.

“The data showed that this vaccine is 95 per cent effective. It is effective within all the groups who were given the vaccine in the trial irrespective of age, sex, race or country they lived in.”

He said safety was similar to other vaccines and that any side effects were usually mild and lasted only a few days.

Senior respiratory physician Professor Wei Shen Lim said the UK has one of the “best immunisation systems in the world” and set out the process the country will take to vaccinate the population.

Prof Lim, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the first phase of the vaccination programme would protect those most at risk and health and social care workers, and from then on the programme would see a banding system, whereby those in the oldest age groups are vaccinated first.

Dr Lim said: “Residents in care homes for older adults and care home workers are the highest priority, following that are those 80 years of age and above alongside frontline health and social care workers.”