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Sterling dipped as doubts resurfaced over whether Britain can seal a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, offsetting any optimism from becoming the world’s first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The pound hit a three-month high against dollar on Tuesday evening after UK broadcaster Times Radio said the trade deal talks had entered the “tunnel” stage of negotiations.

But the mood switched among traders as the EU’s Brexit negotiator told the 27 national envoys to Brussels that differences persisted, according to a senior EU diplomat present at a closed-door briefing.

Brexit retains an unmatched ability to induce knee-jerk reactions in the pound, and this morning’s ominous story about Michel Barnier telling EU ambassadors that three obstacles remain to a trade deal with the UK is no exception.

That development overshadowed news that Britain had become the first western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, which it is likely to start rolling out next week.

Britain became the first western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, jumping ahead of the United States and Europe after its regulator cleared a shot developed by Pfizer for emergency use in record time.

A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have said their vaccine is 95% effective in preventing illness, much higher than expected.

Other frontrunners in the vaccine race include U.S. biotech firm Moderna, which has said its shot is 94% successful in late-stage clinical trials. Moderna and Pfizer have developed their shots using new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

AstraZeneca said last month its COVID-19 shot, which is based on traditional vaccine technology, was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective.

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