A coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out to NHS staff within a few weeks, it has been reported.

An NHS trust chief sent an email to his staff saying the Health Service is preparing for a national vaccination programme before Christmas.

The Government has also introduced new laws which would allow the country to roll out a vaccine even without the EU approval process if a safe jab is found before the end of the Brexit transition period, the Mail on Sunday reports.

Glen Burley, chief executive of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Warwick­shire, wrote: "Our Trust, alongside NHS organisations nationally, has been told to be prepared to start a Covid-19 staff vaccine programme in early December.

The vaccine would be given in two doses, 28 days apart

"The latest intelligence states a coronavirus vaccine should be available this year with NHS staff prioritised prior to Christmas."

In the email, seen by the Mail on Sunday, Mr Burley also said the vaccine was expected to be given "in two doses, 28 days apart".

Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Trust, told a recent hospital board meeting: "I’m hoping for a Covid-19 vaccine to be available to healthcare providers some time in December.

The message Glen Burley sent to his staff

"It has not been confirmed yet but I’m hoping to be able to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to our staff."

Last night, David Eltringham, managing director at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, said there is no definite date for the vaccine yet, but there are plans to deploy it from the beginning of December.

It comes as a coronavirus vaccine developed at Oxford University is "doing everything expected" and provokes strong immunity to the virus, according to a study.

The entrance to one of five Covid-19 wards at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside

David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, who led the research, said the vaccine is "doing everything we expected."

He said: “This is an important study as we are able to confirm that the genetic instructions underpinning this vaccine, which is being developed as fast as safely possible, are correctly followed when they get into a human cell.

“Until now, the technology hasn’t been able to provide answers with such clarity, but we now know the vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness.”

Sir Patrick Vallance said that while there has been "remarkable" progress made around the world, vaccines will not be in widespread use until some time next year.

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, he said it was too early to speculate about how effective a vaccine might be, but said the aim would be for a vaccine to allow the "release" of measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing.

He said: "Things are progressing well, there are vaccines that produce an immune response, they're in phase three clinical trials, we should be seeing some data read-outs over the course of this year.

Sir Patrick Vallance said a vaccine will not be ready for widespread use until some time next year

"But I remain of the view that the possibility of wider-spread use of vaccines isn't going to be until spring or so next year by the time we get enough doses and enough understanding of the outputs to use them."

The total number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the UK is 854,010.

According to the latest data, the total number of coronavirus-related fatalities is 44,745.