UK ministers have pushed forward plans for a mass Covid-19 vaccine to October as top scientists reveal there’s a “small but plausible” hope a jab will be ready by Christmas.
Health experts say doctors and nurses will be their first choice for administering a vaccine once one is declared safe and effective by watchdogs, and “tens of thousands” will be recruited in preparation, along with community pharmacists.
A senior medical expert told the Standard: “The chances of having large volumes of vaccine this side of Christmas are small, but nevertheless it is plausible, at least for a couple of manufacturers that we are looking at.”
Though a vaccine has not yet been found, Britain is backing research worldwide and guaranteed access to four types of doses from various manufacturers.
Before anybody is vaccinated – the elderly, at risk, health and social workers are expected to be first – the drug will need to pass safety tests carried out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, told the same publication “We are making progress in developing Covid-19 vaccines which we hope will be important in saving lives, protecting healthcare workers and returning to normal in future.
“If we develop effective vaccines, it’s important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible but only once strict safety standards have been met.”
Indicating the optimism of health officials that a vaccine will be found before 2021, the UK will be given more authority to approve drugs this year, independently of the European Medicines Agency which has the power to licence drugs until December, the end of the Brexit transition.