Coronavirus news: Pfizer vaccine rollout could take a full YEAR to curb pandemic | UK | News (Reports)


Earlier this month the UK became the first country to approve and rollout the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, with around 800,000 doses of the jab administered across the country. But Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), has now warned vaccinating the UK could take a full year even without any likely interruptions. It comes after the UK recorded another 20,263 coronavirus cases and 232 more deaths yesterday.

Along with Professor Tim Cook, consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine from the University of Bristol, Sir Jeremy warned the UK could be battling the pandemic until the end of next year.

Writing in medical journal Anaesthesia, the pair said: “The scale of the vaccination programme should not be underestimated.

“1,000 vaccination centres each vaccinating 500 people a day for five days a week, without interruptions of supply or delivery, would take almost a year to provide two doses to the UK population.

“No country has mounted a whole population vaccination campaign in living memory and it will need to be undertaken with local leadership and cultural sensitivity.”

READ MORE: Covid vaccine near me: Where can I get the vaccine? Full list of immunisation centres

Sir Jeremy and Prof Cook also suggested the first vaccine approved for us could serve to prevent serious illness in coronavirus patients rather than give immunity outright.

They added: “Vaccine success may be through stopping an infection becoming established in an individual (disease prevention); stopping progression to severe disease in infected individuals (disease attenuation); or preventing onward transfer of disease (sterilising immunity).

“Whether all three of these goals will be met by ‘first generation’ vaccines is not known, but is vital to the long-term success of the programme. Sterilising immunity is particularly important as it is epidemic modifying.

“However, it may require nasally administered vaccines or adjuncts. From pre-clinical studies, it is possible that the first vaccines, likely to be released in late 2020, may be more effective in preventing disease progression and hospitalisation and less effective in preventing transmission.”

It comes after Professor Chris Whitty and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at a Downing Street press conference a new strain of coronavirus has been detected, raising fears vaccines may not be as effective.

Prof Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, addressed concerns about the new strain during the press conference, and played down fears it would be unaffected by the current crop of vaccine candidates.

He said: “There isn’t huge selection pressure on this virus… When a very high proportion of the population has been vaccinated, at that point, the new variants that emerge are more likely to be ones which actually are able partially to escape from a vaccine.

“But there’s no reason to think that would be happening at the moment.”

Vaccinations in English GP surgeries and Scottish care homes began yesterday, with more than 100 locations being delivered doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech jab.

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams are about to embark on an enormous challenge, delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the community whilst also delivering the expanded flu vaccine programme and the usual care and services our patients rely on us for.”

Oxford University and Astrazeneca’s vaccine candidate is also set to be approved soon, with a full roll out “likely” by the new year, according to Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher on the Oxford Vaccine Development Programme.

The UK has in total recorded 1,874,867 cases and 64,500 deaths from the virus, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.


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