Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine is expected to be approved shortly after Christmas, raising hopes that millions of people a week could soon be vaccinated.
Senior Whitehall sources are reported to believe the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will approve the vaccine on December 28th or 29th. They are waiting for the final data from the Oxford scientists to be made available on Monday.
An MHRA spokesman said after the reports that its review was "ongoing" and did not contradict the approval period.
The latest positive sign comes after Professor Sarah Gilbert, the lead researcher behind the new vaccine, said Friday she hoped the sting was "not too far off" from approval.
And Professor Martin Marshall, the chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said Saturday morning that the Oxford sting will enable the vaccination process at a "much faster pace".
More than 140,000 Britons have already received the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine after it was approved by the MHRA earlier this month. However, it must be stored at around -70 ° C, while the Oxford vaccine can be stored at room temperature.
However, there are growing fears that England is on the verge of a third lockdown after Mr Johnson refused to rule out the drastic move.
Latest figures from the Ministry of Health show that 18,469 patients with coronavirus are in hospital, the highest number since mid-April.
Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine is expected to be approved within Christmas, raising hopes that millions of people a week could soon be vaccinated
Once the Oxford vaccine – which was made with the support of privately held AstraZeneca – is approved, football stadiums and racetracks across the country will open from the first week of January to allow for mass vaccination, the Telegraph said in its report.
This means that by March up to 20 million of the most vulnerable Britons had been vaccinated, easing some restrictions.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, making a significant expansion of the NHS vaccination program possible.
Other countries that have ordered the sting receive a boost in confidence when it is approved by the respected MHRA.
The first batch of four million doses of the Oxford vaccine will be shipped from the Netherlands and Germany.
Although the new shock is primarily made in the UK, it makes it easy to introduce.
According to senior Whitehall sources, the drug and health product regulator will approve the vaccine on December 28th or 29th
The 100 million doses plus the 40 million Pfizer vaccines that have already been introduced will be enough to vaccinate the whole country.
Both vaccines require two doses, but there is a three-week gap for the Pfizer vaccine and a four-week gap for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The MHRA took longer to approve the new vaccine as volunteers received different doses in the clinical trial.
A spokesman said on Saturday: & # 39; Our ongoing review of the Oxford / AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is ongoing.
& # 39; Our vaccine approval process is designed to ensure that each Covid-19 vaccine approved meets the expected high standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
“Every vaccine must undergo robust clinical trials in accordance with international standards monitored by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). No vaccine may be approved for delivery in the UK unless it meets expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy. & # 39;
More than 9,000 received two full doses of the sting – a regimen that was 62 percent effective against the virus – but another 3,000 received half and full doses – suggesting the results were 90 percent effective.
However, the second group is smaller and does not include anyone who is at risk of the virus over the age of 50 and over, making it difficult to determine the best regimen.
Other data also suggest that the two full doses produced a better immune response.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today program, Professor Gilbert said the test results had pleased researchers, but also "intrigued" and "immediately made them want to work more".
The latest positive sign comes after Professor Sarah Gilbert, the lead researcher behind the new vaccine, said Friday she hoped the sting was "not too far off" from approval
"So it wasn't quite the high point it could have been," she said.
“But we are very pleased with the performance of the vaccine and we are very much looking forward to people getting started with vaccination outside of clinical trials.
General practitioners have been instructed to use an additional dose of Pfizer's Covid vaccine when the NHS updates recommendations
General practitioners have been ordered by the NHS to use a sixth dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine after it was revealed yesterday that its vials contained an extra shot of the sting.
According to the UK Medical Regulatory Authority, each vial – the small glass container that contains the liquid vaccine – contains five doses given in 0.3ml shots. However, it has been admitted that after diluting the vaccine before dispensing, one vial contains up to 2.25 ml – enough for seven and a half doses.
Doctors and nurses delivering the vaccine have now been instructed in a weekly webinar with NHS England to use one of the extra doses at their own discretion.
The sixth dose increases the amount of vaccine available in the UK by 20 percent and allows an additional 160,000 people to receive the 800,000 vaccines that have been dispensed this month alone. It could also mean up to 8 million more people could be vaccinated with the Pfizer shock once the UK has received its total order of 40 million doses.
The UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) confirmed to MailOnline yesterday that "small" amounts of the sting are not being used and that the vials will contain additional amounts in the event of a spill and some sticking in the syringe.
However, it insisted that "extra product is not wasted" as the extra fluid was never intended to be used and is only used as a backup.
"Of course, I cannot anticipate this moment, the regulators have to be given time to make their decisions, but I really hope this moment is not too far away."
It took regulators eight working days to approve Pfizer's vaccine after the Department of Health officially asked to evaluate it.
However, Oxford / AstraZeneca's vaccine has yet to be approved despite being under review for almost a month.
The Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, Dr. Marshall, who also works in London, said on BBC Radio 4 this morning: & # 39; Right now we are dealing with this Pfizer vaccine which is difficult.
& # 39; Assuming we get approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is much more familiar because it's much more like the flu shot, we'll be able to get it a lot faster, but certainly in the next couple of years weeks and the next couple of months we expect all nursing homes to be covered. & # 39;
He added that "good progress" has been made with the vaccination program so far.
“We will be ready to roll out the vaccine on a large scale in nursing homes over the next few weeks. It's a complicated process, as you say, ”he said.
& # 39; The Pfizer vaccine requires very careful maintenance.
“The number in nursing homes is of course much less than the number we deliver in our own clinics, but we get there.
“I think we're making really good progress.
“The vaccine, as you suggested, isn't stable unless you handle temperatures really well.
& # 39; It comes from the freezer – the -70 temperatures – is brought to general practice in normal refrigerators at 4-7 degrees.
“It then has to be removed from these refrigerators and transported in temperature-controlled cardboard boxes, of course in small packs, as you have described in each individual care home.
“That is done either by a doctor or a nurse in the nursing homes. These are the nursing homes that we usually already know. We already know the residents.
"There, the vaccine is reconstituted with saline, dispensed into individual syringes and then administered to individual residents and their staff, first of all making sure that they are authorized and that we have the correct consent."
However, when asked if England would follow the example of Wales and Northern Ireland in announcing plans for new locks later this month, Mr Johnson declined to rule out the drastic move.
He replied, “We sincerely hope that we can avoid this.
"But the reality is that infection rates have risen very sharply in the past few weeks."
School Secretary Nick Gibb had previously insisted that England's tier system was "very effective" but then added, "We're not ruling anything out" when asked about the possibility of a new lockdown after Christmas.
Officials are said to be planning a draconian Tier 4 regime that will close shops and make commuters work from home.
You're alarmed by a surge in virus cases since the second lockdown ended more than two weeks ago.
There are growing fears that England is on the verge of a third lockdown after Mr Johnson refused to rule out the drastic move
A government source told the Daily Mail last night that the Tier 4 proposal was back on the table after being rejected by ministers last month.
"We're not there yet, but we are clearly in a worrying situation," said the insider.
& # 39; It will likely start with closing non-essential retail stores and increasing the work from home.
"But there are a lot of things you could add – it's early days." Other sectors likely to be considered for Tier 4 closure are gyms, swimming pools, and hairdressers.
Another 28,507 Covid cases were reported on Friday – the second highest total to date – along with 489 deaths. That number rose from 424 a week earlier.
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