A TOP Gwent doctor has hailed the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine as "absolutely brilliant science" and urged people to get inoculated against Covid-19.

Vaccinations will begin in Wales next week when the UK receives 40 million doses of the vaccine, produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.

It will initially be prioritised for the very elderly, for care home staff, and for front-line health and social care workers.

David Hepburn, an intensive care consultant for the Gwent area's Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said the vaccine rollout was "a real opportunity to end this pandemic".


He sought to reassure people who may be concerned about "very rare" vaccine complications, given the speed at which the coronavirus jab had been approved for use.

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine earlier this week. The jab has been shown in studies to be 95 per cent effective and works in all age groups.

South Wales Argus: The coronavirus vaccine being produced by BioNTech. Picture: BioNTech/PA MediaThe coronavirus vaccine being produced by BioNTech. Picture: BioNTech/PA Media

"The reason MHRA have moved so quickly is that they’ve been doing interim analysis during the development process, so were one step ahead," Dr Hepburn said on Twitter.

"It’s been through the same scrutiny as all other vaccines. A lot of the red tape has been cut, which has sped things up."

He added: "60,000 people have now died of Covid [in the UK] and I’ve witnessed scores first hand. Don’t forget over 50,000 people have already had the vaccine, so we know the safety."

Dr Hepburn said he had "no qualms at all" about receiving the vaccine.

"I can't wait for life to return to some semblance of normality," he added.

Turning to suggestions there could be unwanted side-effects to the jab, Dr Hepburn said vaccine complications "do exist but are very rare compared to [the] number of doses given".

He said the risk of dying of Covid-19 was much higher than the risk of developing vaccine complications – and pointed to the successful use of vaccines to cure illnesses like polio and smallpox.

"You take a similar risk when you take your first dose of a new antibiotic or other drug, and usually we balance the risks versus benefits," he said. "It will come down to individual choice, of course, and we shouldn’t force anyone to have it – but it’s critical a majority take it to achieve the all-important herd immunity which protects those who can’t, or won’t, have the jab."