© Reuters. The Chief Economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, listens from the audience at an event at the Bank of England in the City of London

LONDON (Reuters) – Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane said he was hopeful that the announcement of a breakthrough in the search for a COVID-19 vaccination would deliver a quick boost of confidence to the economy, even before vaccines are widely available.

“I’m not close enough to know how credible today’s Pfizer announcement is, but let’s hope it is. That would shift expectations I think very decisively among both people and among companies,” Haldane said in a speech to the Reform think tank.

Pfizer Inc (NYSE:) said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective.

Haldane said the roll-out of a useable vaccine would probably take months but news of a breakthrough would eliminate fears of a string of stop-start cycles of lockdown for the economy which would hammer businesses.

“Whether it’s next quarter or next year matters much less than the fact that you now have a way of preventing the prolongation of this stop-start cycling,” he said.

“That is all the difference in the world, between having a viable business and not having a viable business, and making that investment and not making that investment, in psychological scarring that persists and deepens or the sense that things are going to get better at some point in the foreseeable future.”

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