Initial results from a phase 3 trial of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech found 'a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%, at seven days after the second dose'.
A statement on the findings said that protection is achieved '28 days after the initiation of the vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule', with the two doses administered three weeks apart.
The trial found no serious safety concerns and data on the vaccine could be ready to be submitted for emergency use authorisation to the US Food and Drug Administration by the third week of November.
Early results on the vaccine candidate come just days after the BMA and NHS England confirmed a deal for GP practices across England to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations potentially from as early as the start of December.
NHS England has said it expects vaccines are more likely to become available from the start of 2021, but has put the deal in place with GPs on the 'offchance' of some doses becoming available sooner.
The team behind the vaccine candidate say they 'expect to produce globally up to 50m vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3bn doses in 2021', suggesting some doses could become available this year in the UK.
Professor Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder and chief executive said: 'The first interim analysis of our global phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19. This is a victory for innovation, science and a global collaborative effort.
'When we embarked on this journey 10 months ago this is what we aspired to achieve. Especially today, while we are all in the midst of a second wave and many of us in lockdown, we appreciate even more how important this milestone is on our path towards ending this pandemic and for all of us to regain a sense of normality.
'We will continue to collect further data as the trial continues to enroll for a final analysis planned when a total of 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases have accrued.'
The phase 3 trial began on July 27 and has enrolled 43,538 participants without prior COVID-19 infection, 38,955 of whom had received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of 8 November.
Analysis found 94 cases of COVID-19 in trial participants.