Economists said the early breakthrough in the vaccine race will restart stalling growth next year as England limps out of its second lockdown, but added that full reopening is likely to take many months yet.
“A vaccine could make the biggest difference to the economic outlook in the UK, relative to its peers in G10,” said Robin Winkler, analyst at Deutsche Bank. He explained that Britain would benefit from its deal for 30m doses from Pfizer and because the Government has struggled to contain the pandemic without a vaccine.
Douglas McWilliams, an economist at CEBR, said: “We’re now at the top end of the range of possibilities.”
He said the “gamer changer” could allow GDP to recover to 2019 levels by next summer and reduce the peak in unemployment, adding: “We’ll have to see exactly how fast the vaccine gets rolled out but I think GDP will recover pretty quick.
“We could have double digit growth next year. It depends how much gets shoved into the tail end of this year.”
Forecasters had warned that Covid restrictions could only be rolled back quickly if the vaccine’s efficacy – how effective it is in reducing infection in an inoculated group compared to an unvaccinated one – was high enough.
A high efficacy rate allows economies to reopen more rapidly as herd immunity can be achieved sooner.
Interim analysis indicates that Pfizer’s candidate is more than 90pc effective, meaning it would protect nine in 10 of those vaccinated.
That is well above the minimum 50pc efficacy rate recommended by the World Health Organisation and far better than many analysts were expecting.