Coronavirus vaccinations are now being given in UK care homes, Matt Hancock confirms as top scientist says Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine is on track to be approved ‘shortly after Christmas’
- UK regulator the MHRA has been analysing study data since November 27
- Testing suggests the vaccine is either 62% or 90% effective, depending on doses
- Either dosing regime looks good enough for approval, manufacturer says
Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine now looks likely to be approved for public use next week.
Sir John Bell, an Oxford University medicine professor and adviser to government ministers, said today the jab could be approved ‘shortly after’ Christmas.
He said he expects the data from the ongoing clinical studies ‘looks better than ever’ and that the vaccine would get a green light from Britain’s regulators.
If it is approved, the jab – which can, helpfully, be stored in a normal fridge – could get start getting rolled out just days later.
More than half a million people in the UK have already been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to PM Boris Johnson, and the programme is fast gaining speed on the run-in to the New Year.
There are already more than four million doses of Oxford’s vaccine on standby so the vaccination programme could explode into life if it gets the go-ahead.
The regulator, the MHRA, is thought to be deliberating over whether to give the jab to people in two doses, as was originally intended, or to give them 1.5 after a small part of the trial found it appeared to work better this way.
AstraZeneca bosses say they think either dosing option – the difference is 62 per cent effective or 90 per cent – is good enough to use and would reduce deaths.
Professor Sir John Bell, who advises the Government on the virus, said he was still sure the UK would be able to return to normal by the sprin
Sir John told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that he expects MHRA approval ‘pretty shortly’.
He said: ‘They got data quite a long time ago but that was the first set of data. They receive multiple sets of data.
‘So we are getting to be about prime time now, I would expect some news pretty shortly. I doubt we’ll make Christmas now, but just after Christmas I would expect.
‘I have no concerns whatsoever that the data looks better than ever.’