Kate Bingham said there was a glimmer of hope one of the leading candidates could be approved by Christmas. Her comments come as pharmaceutical companies around the world are racing to find a vaccine.
Ms Bingham told The Guardian: “I can just see that it’s such an incredibly sensitive topic, that everyone is so desperate to be out of lockdown and get back to normal that everyone grabs at straws.
“I think my key message is we’re in a very good place.
“The UK is well set up, we’ve got a very attractive portfolio.
“We are absolutely well planned and well organised in terms of having the right vaccines and knowing when they’re arriving.”
The UK has bought six of the hundreds of vaccine candidates in development.
Ms Bingham added: “They have to have enough cases to show vaccine efficacy and the regulator has to approve it.
“If all of that happens, then it’s possible that we could have a vaccine this side of Christmas.
“But, you know, I’ve called it a slim chance and I think it is a slim chance.
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Earlier this week, experts called for a standardised approach to assess the effectiveness of any coronavirus vaccine in a review published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
Researchers from the University of Oxford said a meaningful comparison of different candidates is required to ensure only the most effective vaccines are deployed.
Dr Susanne Hodgson, who is the lead author of the review, said: “It is unlikely that we will see a single vaccine winner in the race against Covid-19.
“Different technologies will bring distinct advantages that are relevant in different situations, and additionally, there will probably be challenges with manufacturing and supplying a single vaccine at the scale required, at least initially.
“Taking a standardised approach to measuring the success of vaccines in clinical trials will be important for making meaningful comparisons, so that the most effective candidates can be taken forward for wider use.”
There are more than 200 vaccine candidates in development around the world, with 44 in clinical trials.
Of the 44, nine are in the phase three stage of clinical evaluation and are being given to thousands of people to confirm safety and effectiveness.
An effective vaccine is one that can act against infection, disease, or transmission to keep the coronavirus pandemic under control.