‘Back to normal by Spring’: stock markets roar on Christmas vaccine hopes

9 November 2020, 21:59 | Updated: 10 November 2020, 07:27

Scientists have said they are 'hopeful' for a vaccine by Christmas
Scientists have said they are 'hopeful' for a vaccine by Christmas. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

UK and global stock markets have soared following the success of the latest coronavirus vaccine trials by Pfizer and BioNTech, with one government scientific advisor saying Brits could return to normal life "by spring".

Speaking after the huge vaccine breakthrough was announced, government scientific advisor Sir John Bell said that the Pfizer and BioNTech trials could pave the way for the rollout of a least one vaccine in the UK early in the new year.

In comments that will bring some relief amid the crisis, Sir John said: "I am really delighted with this result - it shows that you can make a vaccine against this little critter. Ninety percent is an amazing level of efficacy."

"It rolls the pitch for other vaccines because I can't see any reason now why we shouldn't have a handful of good vaccines."

Asked if people could look forward to a return to normal life by the spring, Sir John replied: "Yes, yes, yes, yes. I am probably the first guy to say that but I will say that with some confidence."

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Sir John Bell said life could be 'normal' by Spring
Sir John Bell said life could be 'normal' by Spring. Picture: PA

In the wake of the good news, UK and global stock markets soared as the breakthrough brought new hope to the economy.

On Monday, London's markets hit their best day since March as the result of the vaccine news and the US presidential race lit a fire under traders.

The FTSE 100 rose by 4.67 per cent, adding about £70 billion, after Pfizer said that it had seen positive signs from the vaccine trial.

London's top market added about 276 points, setting it on course for the best day since March 24.

Read more: Mass testing and vaccine progress 'no substitute' for national restrictions, PM says

Read more: Vaccine breakthrough shouldn't be seen as overnight victory, expert warns

Stock markets have soared following the vaccine news
Stock markets have soared following the vaccine news. Picture: PA

British Airways owner IAG and engine maker Rolls-Royce, companies that have both been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, jumped on hope that the vaccine could return the economy closer to normal.

On the FTSE 250, Cineworld rose by 40 per cent, Trainline added 31 per cent, easyJet, Tui and cruise operator Carnival all rose by more than 20 per cent.

But businesses that have been cashing in from the crisis took a hit.

Ocado, which has seen sales soar because of lockdown, dropped 11.5 per cent, Just Eat Takeaway.com lost more than 8 per cent, and Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Dettol, fell 5.7 per cent.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccine: When will it be available and who would get it first?

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Jonathan Van Tam says he is 'hopeful for vaccine by Christmas'

Other scientists have also hailed the news, including England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, who tweeted: "Preliminary news that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is effective demonstrates the power of science against COVID. We must see the final safety and efficacy data, but it is very encouraging.

"It is essential we continue to suppress COVID, but it is a reason for optimism for 2021."

And at a Downing Street coronavirus briefing, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam said he hopes there could be a vaccine in place "by Christmas".

Pro Van-Tam told a No 10 news conference that the latest trials represented a significant scientific breakthrough.

However, he said that there was more to be done before it became available and that it would be for the independent regulator to clear it for use in the UK.

"This is a very important scientific breakthrough. I am certain of that," he said.

"I am hopeful because of all that, but not yet certain that we could begin to see some vaccine by Christmas."

The comments come after trials showed a vaccine candidate to be 90 per cent effective with 10 million doses set to become available for the UK by the end of the year.

However, Sir John also said organising the distribution of the vaccine would be "challenging" but that the UK was well-placed to benefit once it becomes available.

"They will obviously start in the US - that's probably appropriate. BioNTech is a German company so there will be, I am sure, doses made available for Europe," he stated.

"The UK has done a pre-approval agreement to purchase up 30 million doses of this vaccine, so we are very well prepared to get access to this vaccine when it becomes available.

"The manufacturing challenges are not small, so people need be ready to wait a bit to get it."

Prior to today, experts had been very cautious about the chances of coronavirus curbs being loosened in the near future.

Johnson discusses vaccine breakthrough

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK is 'front of the pack' for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine if it proves a success.

The Prime Minister said the UK stands to get 40 millions doses of the vaccine if it is approved for use in the coming weeks.

But he warned that if the vaccine is approved it would not be enough to suppress the ongoing second wave.

"Right now the message is 'stand fast' rather than get too overexcited about where we are," he added.

"Frankly, we're in the middle of the second wave, and I don't see the vaccine making any difference for the wave we are now in," he said.

"I'm hopeful that it may prevent future waves, but this one we have to battle through to the end without a vaccine."

He added that there was reason to be optimistic about the future, however, and that a working vaccine would make a "significant different" to the impact Covid-19 had on hospitals and wider society.

The Prime Minister added he was "buoyantly optimistic" about the vaccine but warned the public should not "run away" with the good news and assume the pandemic will be over in the near future.

How might Covid-19 vaccines work in practice?

The developers of the vaccine, Pfizer and BioNTech, plan to apply for emergency approval so the drug can start to be used by the end of the month after no safety issues were raised.It has been tested on 43,500 people in the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.

Pfizer hope to supply 50 million doses by the end of 2020 and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

The vaccine would include two doses given three weeks apart, and 90 per cent of individuals are then protected seven days after the second dose.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO.

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