Hundreds of coronavirus vaccine trials are currently taking place across the world. However only a few are in Phase 3 trials, and experts do not believe a vaccine will be widely available over the next few months.
As a vaccine is not expected soon, the UK is currently preparing for winter and a potential second wave of coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to hold an emergency COBRA meeting on Tuesday this week, and follow with a statement on updated lockdown restrictions as cases continue to rise.
A number of local lockdowns have been implemented across the UK to control the spread of the virus so far.
But further measures are expected as the UK’s Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance warned this week cases could reach 50,000 a day by mid-October on the current trajectory.
Speaking about the current trend of cases doubling every seven days, Sir Patrick said: “If – and that’s quite a big if – but if that continues unabated and this grows, doubling every seven days, then what you see, of course, let’s say there were 5,000 today, it would be 10,000 next week, 20,000 the week after, 40,000 the week after, and you can see that by mid-October, if that continued, you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October, per day.”
He added: “The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.”
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It is then likely the over-50’s and those with heart and kidney conditions would receive the vaccine next.
But before a vaccine is rolled out to anyone, it will need to face rigorous health and safety checks.
Mr Hancock said this week: “Of course, we will only allow a vaccine to be put in place across the board when it is safe and the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) are one of the most respected and high quality regulators in the entire world.
“It’s they who will make the decision on whether it’s safe to license and of course the question of who should be vaccinated and in what order is again a clinical decision on which we’ll take advice from the joint committee on vaccinations and immunisation.”