- The UK government hopes to roll out a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.
- England’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, reportedly told MPs that the vaccine being developed at Oxford University could be ready before Christmas.
- This would make it possible to start vaccinating the elderly, the vulnerable and key workers in the new year.
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that there were “some very hopeful signs” of a vaccine, “not least from the Oxford AstraZeneca trials.”
- However, he warned that it “can not be taken for granted.”
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The UK government hopes a coronavirus vaccine will be available by December, reports say.
England Vice President Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told MEPs this week that the vaccine being developed at Oxford University by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca could be available to high-priority groups in time for the New Year, according to The Times of London newspaper.
He reportedly told MPs: “We are not light years away from that. It is not a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could inject a vaccine soon after Christmas. It would have a significant impact on hospitalizations and deaths.”
A MEP who attended the briefing told the newspaper that Van-Tam was “very bullish on AstraZeneca’s third phase results, which he expects between the end of this month and the end of next.”
If a vaccine is developed, Boris Johnson’s government initially plans to offer it to the elderly, the vulnerable and key employees to significantly reduce the number of COVID-19 admissions and deaths. Van-Tam reportedly told MPs that this would make it much harder for young people infected with the virus to pass it on to more vulnerable people.
Thousands of National Health Service staff will receive training in vaccination before the end of the year, says The Times of London report.
Professor Van-Tam’s comments come as Britain faces another rise in the virus, with the Johnson government enforcing a series of local lockdowns in an attempt to tackle the growing number of new infections across the country.
The British Prime Minister this week urged MPs to temper their expectations over a virus and warned them that the lack of development of a vaccine for Sars shows that “it can not be taken for granted.”
When Conservative MP Steve Baker was asked on Monday to provide a specific timeline for the development of a vaccine, Johnson said: “Alas, I can not give him a date where I can confidently promise that we will have a vaccine. .
“There are some very hopeful signs, not least from Oxford AstraZeneca trials being carried out.
“But as he knows, Sars took place 18 years ago, we still do not have a vaccine against Sars. I do not want to depress him, but we must be realistic about this.
“There is a good chance of a vaccine, but it can not be taken for granted.”
Until and unless a vaccine is developed, Johnson’s government hopes an upgrade of the UK’s test regimen plus the development of new therapeutic treatments will make it easier to suppress the virus and reduce the need for harsh lockdown restrictions.