Life Will Start Returning To Normal By Spring, Vaccine Task Force Member Says
Life will start returning to normal by spring next year, a member of the UK’s vaccine task force has said.
It was recently announced that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 90% effective in immunising against the virus, with the UK government ordering 30 million doses. It’s hoped it will be rolled out in some form by the end of this year, if given approval from regulators.
Professor Sir John Bell, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said we should hopefully start returning to normal early next year. ‘I’m probably the first guy to say that but I will say that with some confidence,’ he added, while speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One.
Bell continued, ‘I am really delighted with this result – it shows that you can make a vaccine against this little critter. 90% is an amazing level of efficacy. It rolls the pitch for other vaccines because I can’t see any reason now why we shouldn’t have a handful of good vaccines.’
The mRNA-based vaccine from the US and German giants involves injecting a part of COVID-19’s genetic code into a person’s body in a bid to train the immune system to fight it.
Out of the 43,538 participants from six countries, only 94 have so far developed coronavirus. Researchers earlier added there were no safety concerns – however, the protection rate is still being studied, with phase three trials continuing until 164 infections have been reported.
As for worldwide distribution, Bell explained, ‘They will obviously start in the US – that’s probably appropriate. BioNTech is a German company so there will be, I am sure, doses made available for Europe.’
He added, ‘The UK has done a pre-approval agreement to purchase up 30 million doses of this vaccine, so we are very well prepared to get access to this vaccine when it becomes available.’
However, Bell said, ‘The manufacturing challenges are not small, so people need be ready to wait a bit to get it.’ Another ‘challenging’ aspect of the vaccine is storage, with temperatures of -80°C required to preserve the doses.
The companies hope to send the vaccine to regulators, such as the Food and Drug Administration in the US, for emergency approval by the end of this month. By the end of 2020, 50 million doses could be supplied, with potential for 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. The UK’s order of 30 million will be enough for 15 million people, according to Sky News.
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