Britain has ’50/50 chance’ of becoming the first country in the world to have an approved coronavirus vaccine – and it could be NEXT WEEK, source says
- A decision on whether a vaccine will be approved could come by next week
- A Government source said it was ‘very likely’ Pfizer will be licensed first
- Said it was ‘looking pretty close’ meaning the Oxford vaccine is close behind
- Ministers are being prepped to launch pro-vaccine campaign next week
Britain has a ’50/50 chance’ of being the first country in the world to approve a Covid vaccine, it has been revealed.
A decision could come as early as next week, with one source suggesting Britain could be the first to be awarded a license to start offering vaccinations.
NHS workers will be the first to be protected against the deadly virus before care home workers and other vulnerable Brits.
Ministers are also being prepped to launch a TV and radio campaign to encourage Brits to get the vaccination as early as next week.
A decision could come as early as next week, with one source suggesting Britain could be the first to be awarded a license to start offering vaccinations. Pictured, Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a visit to Imperial Clinic Research Facility at Hammersmith Hospital in London
Final safety data for the Pfizer jab, which is 95 per cent effective, was given to regulators on Monday.
And officials are quietly confident the UK can get approval ahead of the US and the EU.
The Pfizer jab has to be stored at -70C and can only be thawed in batches of 1,000 which could become a nightmare for the NHS.
It was previously reported Britain could have 19million doses of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.
President of AstraZeneca, Tom Keith-Roach said, on top of the four million doses on standby for the UK, a further 15million could be ready to roll out by the end of next month.
The vaccine is expected to cost just £2 per dose and can be stored in ordinary equipment, unlike other jabs made by Pfizer and Moderna that showed similarly promising results last week but need to be kept in ultra-cold temperatures using expensive equipment.
Gina Plata-Nino receives an injection from RN Bethany Trainor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA on September 4. Plato-Nino is taking part in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine
It’s also a fraction of the price, with Pfizer’s costing around £15 per dose and Moderna’s priced at about £26 a shot.
Oxford’s trials found the jab has a nine in ten chance of working when administered as a half dose first and then a full dose a month later. Efficacy drops to 62 per cent when someone is given two full doses a month apart.
More than 24,000 volunteers were involved in Oxford’s phase three trials in the UK and Brazil, half of whom were given the vaccine and the rest were given a fake jab.
There were only 30 cases of Covid-19 in people given the vaccine compared to 101 in the placebo group. None of the participants who took the vaccine fell seriously ill.
The result also showed lower levels of asymptomatic infection in the smaller dose group which ‘means we might be able to halt the virus in its tracks,’ according to Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group.
The Pfizer jab has to be stored at -70C and can only be thawed in batches of 1,000 which could become a nightmare for the NHS (file image)
He said today was ‘a very exciting day’ and claimed his team’s jab would play a key part ‘in getting the world back to normal’.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also hailed the results, saying millions of doses will be ready to go by the end of December.
He told the BBC: ‘It’s really encouraging news… nobody who took it ended up in hospital or had serious conditions. We hope to be able to start vaccinating next month. The bulk of the vaccine roll out programme will be in January, February, March. And we hope that sometime after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal.’
Oxford’s jab is viewed as Britain’s best chance of mass-inoculation of the population by the end of spring because Boris Johnson has pre-ordered 100million doses, enough to vaccinate 50million people.
The UK already has 4million ready to go as soon as the jab is approved, which could see 2million people inoculated before the end of 2020.