Matt Hancock outlines date COVID vaccine is ‘likely to be rolled out in UK’
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Speaking on LBC Radio the Health Secretary said the coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University could be available for some at the end of 2020. He said the “best-case scenario” could see the most vulnerable receiving the vaccine in the coming months. The vaccine is called AZD1222 which is owned by UK drug giant AstraZeneca.
The pharmaceutical firm is already in the process of manufacturing 30 million doses of the vaccine.
Mr Hancock told LBC Radio: “We have got 30 million doses already contracted with AstraZeneca.
“In fact, they are starting to manufacture those doses already, ahead of approval, so that should approval come through and it’s still not certain but it is looking up should that approval come through then we are ready to roll out.
“The best-case scenario is that happens this year.
“I think more likely is in the early part of next year in the first few months of next year is the most likely.
“But we’ve also bought vaccine ahead of it getting approved from a whole different series of international vaccines as well.”
More than 50,000 people worldwide are taking part in ‘phase 3’ studies to see whether the jab can prevent infections.
Studies by scientists had to be moved to other countries over the summer where infection rates were higher to speed up trials.
Scientists have warned there are no guarantees a successful vaccine will be created.
Other countries have vaccines in production, such as China and Russia.
Globally there are nine vaccines that are in stage three of trials, however, no vaccine has been approved by international scientists as yet.
Australia is releasing its own vaccine from the University of Queensland.
The country’s prime minister Scott Morrison said the free doses of the vaccine would be rolled out in 2021.
Mr Morrison said: “However the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light.”
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Globally health officials are concerned about a second wave of the disease after lockdown restrictions were relaxed over the summer.
England’s deputy chief medical officer has warned that there has been a “big change” in the virus’ reproduction rate – since a recent spike in infections.
He said the change is of “great concern”.
Professor Jonathan Van Tam said: “We have relaxed too much and we have got to start taking this very seriously again”.
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