The leading vaccine, produced by US firm Pfizer and German partner BIONTECH, has passed safety tests and is effective among the elderly, officials announced yesterday. In another huge boost, the team behind the UK’s main vaccine, made by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, will also unveil successful early trial results today. It follows Tuesday’s news that US firm Moderna’s vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective. The Oxford team will reveal how in its phase two trials on healthy adults, a staggering 99 per cent created Covid-killing antibodies.
Some 100 million doses of this vaccine have been pre-ordered. The TURN TO PAGE 4
FROM PAGE ONE Pfizer-BioNTech results showed only eight people out of more than 20,000 who got the vaccine caught coronavirus.
The startling results showed that it was 95 per cent effective, only dropping to 94 per cent for over-65s.
One expert said that the findings among the elderly “surpass expectations”.
The UK has secured 40 million doses of that vaccine, with 10 million due by the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.
Britain’s five million doses of the Moderna jab will arrive next spring
And Britain’s five million doses of the Moderna jab will arrive next spring.
The positive results provide some early festive cheer for millions hoping to get back to normal.
Dr Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at the Wellcome Trust, said: “This reported additional data is another bright moment in what has been a dark year.
“Today’s update from Pfizer and BioNTech on the efficacy of their vaccine is highly encouraging. Such high levels of efficacy reported in over-65s surpass all expectations we had for the first generation of Covid-19 vaccines.
“This group is among those most at risk of serious illness and, alongside healthcare workers, must be prioritised to receive the first doses of any vaccines.”
Professor Trudie Lang, from the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, said: “Achieving 94 per cent protection in the elderly is excellent.
“We will need to wait and learn over time how long the protection lasts, and to see whether this vaccine can also prevent transmission.
“Meanwhile, this vaccine does look likely to have a strong role in protecting health workers and the vulnerable from disease.
“To go from identifying a new virus to having several vaccines at the point of applying for regulatory approval is an incredible milestone for science.”
The Oxford-AstraZeneca data published today in The Lancet shows it also produces immune responses in all ages.
Oxford’s phase two study only tested healthy adult subjects but found 99 per cent created neutral- ising antibodies. Phase three trials are still ongoing to test the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, of the University of Oxford, said: “The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging.
“The populations at greatest risk of serious Covid disease include people with existing health conditions and older adults.
“We hope that this means our vaccine will help to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society.”
NHS chiefs yesterday vowed they are ready to deliver the coronavirus vaccines as soon as they are given the green light to be used in the UK.
Those given priority to the vaccine will be the elderly and health and care workers
This will be carried out through traditional routes such as GPs, pharmacies and dedicated vaccination centres.
NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said the health service was “working incredibly hard” to deploy them.
Prof Powis said: “The vaccines have different characteristics. The way they can be transported and delivered is different. So we are planning for different types of vaccine. Meanwhile, we’re working hard, we’re ensuring we have the workforce to do this. St John Ambulance, for instance, are also recruiting volunteers so we have an additional vaccine workforce.”
In a Commons debate yesterday, health minister Jo Churchill told MPs the planning of the vaccine roll-out is “now very much under way”.
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advises who should be vaccinated first.
But those given priority will be the most vulnerable, the elderly and health and care workers.
NHS Nightingale hospitals have also been earmarked as vaccination centres, with “roving teams” also being deployed to care homes.
The Government said a further 529 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the UK total to 53,274. There were a further 19,609 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.