The health secretary has told Sky News that he hopes a mass vaccination programme for COVID-19 will get under way “within a matter of weeks”.

A coronavirus vaccine has yet to receive official approval, but two US-led treatments have been found to be more than 90% effective.

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The UK government has ordered enough of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to treat 20 million people, while it has also secured five million doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Speaking to Kay Burley, Matt Hancock said “nothing’s guaranteed yet” but there were “encouraging signs of hope”.

He told the programme that the NHS was working towards delivering the flu jab and COVID-19 vaccine “in parallel” and “within a matter of weeks”.

“Normally 15 million people are vaccinated against flu. This year it will be 30 million – the biggest number in history,” Mr Hancock said.

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“We hope that we will also have a COVID vaccination programme alongside that. The arrangements are being put in place for the NHS to deliver that at scale.

“It will be a huge effort, and I know that the NHS is up to it.”

The health secretary said he hopes people can be vaccinated in large numbers in 2021.

Derby City Council has said the Derby Arena is being considered as a temporary vaccination centre.

Chris Poulter, the leader of Derby City Council, said: “The potential roll-out of a COVID vaccine is a welcome step in the nationwide effort against the spread of COVID-19 – it’s an honour for Derby to have the opportunity to play such a critical part in any vaccination programme.

“The Arena is a perfect venue – it has plenty of space, parking, and good transport networks to serve Derby, Derbyshire and beyond.”

On the situation with the pandemic generally, Mr Hancock said there were “encouraging signs” that the number of cases is beginning to flatten.

“The lockdown that we brought in earlier this month is working, but in the meantime everyone has got to keep following the rules,” he told Sky News.

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Asked whether people will be able to see loved ones over Christmas, Mr Hancock acknowledged that it would not be a “normal Christmas” like in previous years.

The health secretary said “there will have to be rules in place”, but added: “We hope that they will allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people look forward to.”

The UK government and the devolved administrations are in talks over what COVID-19 measures should be in place over Christmas, with the details to be made public shortly.

Mr Hancock said: “I know how important Christmas is. It’s important to my family, it’s important to people right across the country.

“We need to have a set of rules, if at all possible, that’s UK-wide. Not least because so many people travel across parts “of the UK.”

He added: “It of course won’t be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place, but we hope that they will allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people look forward to.”

Mr Hancock said he is planning a small family Christmas within the existing rules because a final decision on the measures is yet to be made.

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