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Vaccine expert warns of face masks and social distancing is required until next summer


Face masks and social distancing will be required by next summer, the head of the Covid vaccine team in Oxford said last night.

Andrew Pollard warned that even if his global process proved successful, strict rules must be followed. He said the first bumps might not be available until next year – and then only to key groups like frontline health workers.

Professor Pollard said he hoped the final trials could be completed by the end of this year, but added, “Life won't return to normal until summer at the earliest. We may need masks by July.

“If we can get a vaccine that is effective at preventing the disease, it is by far the best way to control the virus. In the medium term, however, we need even better treatments. When does life return to normal? Even if we had enough vaccine for everyone, I think it is unlikely that we will be very quickly in a position where the rules of physical distancing can simply be dropped.

Andrew Pollard (pictured) warned that strict rules must be followed even if his global process proves successful

“Until we have high levels of immunity in the population so that we can stop the virus, so that most people at risk are immune, there is a risk. For starters, we will be in a position where mask wearing and social distancing will not change.

“Only when there is a sharp decline in severe cases can governments feel able to relax these measures. This is a very easily transmitted virus. & # 39;

Oxford University's vaccine, made with drug giant AstraZeneca, is one of only nine vaccines to have reached phase three trials, the final phase before implementation, and is widely recognized as the lead candidate for dispensing .

Professor Pollard said he hoped the final trials could be completed by the end of this year, but added, “Life won't return to normal until summer at the earliest. We may need masks by July & # 39; (archive image)

Professor Pollard said he hoped the final trials could be completed by the end of this year, but added, “Life won't return to normal until summer at the earliest. We may need masks by July & # 39; (archive image)

In other developments yesterday:

  • Labor's Keir Starmer called for a national "circuit break" that once again asked everyone to stay at home for at least two to three weeks.
  • Talks with leading representatives from the north about stricter lockdown measures continued. At least one other region is expected to join Merseyside in the very high risk category this week.
  • Sadiq Khan called for London to be placed in the second high-risk category within a few days, despite warnings that doing so would ruin the capital's economy.
  • The UK recorded 143 Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily number since June and twice as many as a week ago.
  • Tory MP Chris Green quit his job as a junior government and complained that the lockdown had not worked in his Bolton constituency. He added, "The cure is worse than the disease."
  • The largest surge in layoffs in a quarter of a century and unemployment soared to 4.5 percent fueled fears of a bloodbath in the workplace.
  • Millions of vulnerable people who were shielded from the first wave of Covid-19 have been told they will not have to stay home again.
  • A grieving family was banned from speaking the Lord's Prayer at the funeral because it violated Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Theresa May urged Boris Johnson to add business leaders to his SAGE scientific committee.

Speaking about an online seminar with Oxford alumni, Professor Pollard said that if the vaccine is successful, it must be approved by the drug and health product regulator.

He said, “Once we have the test results, I can't imagine they'll do that overnight.

"You have to study the data very carefully – the public wouldn't expect less."

The final assessment is expected to take weeks, although he and his team have started an "ongoing program" to give the regulator access to the studies during the ongoing phase.

The introduction of the vaccine was a "great logistical challenge," emphasized the professor.

Oxford University's vaccine, made with drug giant AstraZeneca, is one of only nine vaccines to have reached phase three trials, the final phase before implementation, and is widely recognized as the lead candidate for dispensing . In the picture: Continuity test center in Stirling

Oxford University's vaccine, made with drug giant AstraZeneca, is one of only nine vaccines to have reached phase three trials, the final phase before implementation, and is widely recognized as the lead candidate for dispensing . In the picture: Continuity test center in Stirling

Professor Pollard said early results showed that the vaccine causes the body to make antibodies to Covid and that these last for at least three months

Professor Pollard said early results showed that the vaccine causes the body to make antibodies to Covid and that these last for at least three months

Oxford's vaccine is based on a genetically modified coronavirus that gives chimpanzees a form of the common cold.

When trying the bite, 20,000 volunteers in the UK and other countries are given either the vaccine or a harmless placebo.

Professor Pollard said early results showed that the vaccine causes the body to make antibodies to Covid and that these last for at least three months.

Tests on volunteers who were given the sting in April will soon show if they lasted six months.

"The evidence so far in the laboratory is that the antibodies can stop the virus," said Professor Pollard.

At least one person in the study became seriously ill and needed to be hospitalized with the illness, he added.

Kate Bingham, UK Vaccine Task Force leader, said there was "a slim" chance the Oxford Jab could be ready by Christmas.

She said she was optimistic about the data seen in studies so far.

However, she warned against assuming that a Covid-19 vaccine would be better than flu shots, which are only about 50 percent effective.

"It is very likely that it will be next year," she added.

The vaccine was stopped after the volunteer got sick

Another coronavirus vaccine study was suspended following an unexplained illness in one of its volunteers.

The US company Johnson & Johnson announced yesterday that the process was pending a security clearance. It takes about a month for the vaccine trials developed by Oxford University to be abandoned after a volunteer in the UK fell ill with "unexplained neurological symptoms".

This process was later resumed, but not yet in the USA. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a virus called a "Trojan horse" to deliver genetic code that causes cells to recognize the coronavirus and fight it. The UK government has reached an agreement to receive 30 million doses and it is hoped that it will be available in early 2021.

Experts say it is not uncommon for vaccine trials to be suspended. Danny Altmann of Imperial College London said, "I think we are finding that these vaccination attempts are pausing more than usual because we are not used to putting attempts in the spotlight like that."

"While it wouldn't ordinarily be strange to pause to investigate an adverse event, we are alerted here under the intense scrutiny."

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said, "The participant's illness will be reviewed and assessed by the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board and our internal clinical and safety physicians." Before making a decision, all medical information is carefully checked whether the study should be restarted.

No details of the sick person are published.

Stephen Evans of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said, "In most cases, individual adverse events are random, especially when large numbers of participants are involved."

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