English health service preparing for pre-Christmas COVID vaccine roll-out

FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a British flag in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

LONDON (Reuters) - The National Health Service (NHS) in England is getting prepared to start distributing possible COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas in case one of the candidates is ready by the end of the year, the head of the state-run health service said.

“There are over two hundred vaccines in development... we should hopefully get one or more of those available, certainly from the first part of next year,” Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, told BBC radio.

“But in anticipation of that, we’re also gearing the NHS up to be ready to make a start on administering COVID vaccines before Christmas if they become available.”

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Guy Faulconbridge