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Oxford University Covid vaccine has a 'pretty high' chance of being rolled out BEFORE Christmas - immediately releasing four million doses to NHS with 100million on order

Oxford University Covid vaccine has a 'pretty high' chance of being rolled out BEFORE Christmas - immediately releasing four million doses to NHS with 100million on order
  • Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca jab is yet to be approved in UK 
  • Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency still reviewing trial data 
  • Professor Sarah Gilbert said chances of getting the jab this year 'are pretty high'
  • Stressed that multiple vaccines will be needed to tackle the pandemic
  • The chances of the University of Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out by the end of this year are 'pretty high', the lead researcher of the jab revealed.

    The vaccine from Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is yet to be approved for use in the UK -  with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) still reviewing trial data.

    The Government has secured 100 million doses of the vaccine, with four million ready for key workers once approval is given.Oxford University vaccinology professor Sarah Gilbert said the chances of getting the jab - which is 90 per cent effective and costs just £2 per dose - before the end of 2020 'are pretty high'.

    But she stressed that multiple vaccines - made using different technologies - will be needed to tackle the pandemic. 

    In other coronavirus developments: 

    • London's Tory MPs have urged Boris Johnson not to inflict 'untold damage' on the capital by moving it into a tier 3 lockdown this week
    • The battle to defuse the biggest public health crisis for a century by rolling out a mass vaccination campaign was entrusted to a crack team of world-class experts led by a decorated Army bomb disposal expert
    • Researchers have found that Coronavirus lateral flow tests only pick up 49 per cent of infections because they fail to catch people with low levels of the virus;  
    • Experts and jail insiders are said to believe Covid-19 outbreaks in nearby Kent prisons may have been a 'catalyst' for London's rise in cases, 
    • Doctors administering the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine next week have been told to prioritise elderly patients from ethnic minorities and those who have underlying health conditions if there is high demand for the jab;
    • Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Association, said as many as 40 per cent of care home staff could choose not to take the coronavirus vaccine as it is rolled out over the coming days; 
    • Demonstrators took to the streets of London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Brighton for anti-lockdown protests yesterday amid the roll-out of Britain's mass vaccination scheme.
    Oxford University vaccinology professor Sarah Gilbert (pictured) said the chances of getting the jab before the end of 2020 'are pretty high'

    Oxford University vaccinology professor Sarah Gilbert (pictured) said the chances of getting the jab before the end of 2020 'are pretty high' 

    The vaccine from Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is yet to be approved for use in the UK - with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) still reviewing trial data (file image)

    The vaccine from Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is yet to be approved for use in the UK - with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) still reviewing trial data (file image) 

    Professor Gilbert told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: 'It depends on the age group you're in and the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) prioritisations.

    'I think the chances are pretty high. But we do need multiple vaccines, all countries need multiple vaccines, the world needs multiple vaccines and we need vaccines made using different technologies, if that's possible.'

    She said this was due to companies potentially encountering problems with the supply of raw materials as doses are produced, which could slow down vaccine rollout if other jabs are not available.

    'So having multiple shots on goal, multiple irons in the fire, is what we really need,' she added.

    Professor Gilbert's optimistic assessment comes as the UK's coronavirus case load continues to rise - with a further 18,447 coronavirus cases recorded today, up 1,175 on last Sunday.The Prime Minister admitted in a virtual fund-raising event for Conservative party members that people needed to be cautious over the festive period

    The Prime Minister admitted in a virtual fund-raising event for Conservative party members that people needed to be cautious over the festive period

    The case rate per 100,000 people in the capital stood at 191.8 on December 6, up from 158.1 the previous week

    The case rate per 100,000 people in the capital stood at 191.8 on December 6, up from 158.1 the previous week

    Weekly Public Health England data show that many areas in London, East and South East have seen infection rates rise since the lockdown ended and could face Tier Three rules from next week

    Weekly Public Health England data show that many areas in London, East and South East have seen infection rates rise since the lockdown ended and could face Tier Three rules from next week

    Today's spike in positive tests comes as scientists urge Britons to 'rethink' Christmas gatherings amid fears of a third Covid wave.

    A further 21,502 people tested positive yesterday -  a 38 per cent rise on last Saturday's figure - as eager Christmas shoppers flocked to Britain's high streets in their droves.

    Saturday's death toll of 519 is a 30.7 per cent spike on the 397 fatalities seen on the same day last week. 

    But today's total death toll of 144 marks a 37 per cent drop on last week's 231.

    Leading scientists have urged families to exercise caution this festive season and avoid gatherings that could risk infecting vulnerable loved ones - amid fears that Covid cases could spiral out of control yet again.  

    Under the Government's plans for a more-normal festive season, families are able to form a 'bubble' with two other households between December 23 and 27.

    But NHS executive Chris Hopson has urged Mr Johnson to exercise 'extreme caution' before putting any region into a lower tier as any relaxing of rules 'will trigger a third wave'.Britain's high streets (Regent Street, pictured yesterday) have been packed with eager Christmas shoppers as the country's case-total soars by 21,502 - a 38 per cent rise on last Saturday's figure

    Britain's high streets (Regent Street, pictured yesterday) have been packed with eager Christmas shoppers as the country's case-total soars by 21,502 - a 38 per cent rise on last Saturday's figure

    Party goers in Christmas hats were seen on the streets of Soho in London. London is in Tier Two meaning alcoholic drinks at bars can be served with substantial meals

    Party goers in Christmas hats were seen on the streets of Soho in London. London is in Tier Two meaning alcoholic drinks at bars can be served with substantial meals

    Busy bars and restaurants in London were packed on Saturday night as revellers got into the Christmas spirit

    Busy bars and restaurants in London were packed on Saturday night as revellers got into the Christmas spirit

    He instead insisted that areas such as London - which sees 211 cases per 10,000 people each week - should be moved up to Tier Three to get numbers under control. He also said Essex, Kent and Lincolnshire have shown worrying figures.

    Mr Hopson - the chief executive of NHS Providers which represents trusts across the country - said the current rise in cases is 'worrying', especially as it came towards the end of the England's second nation-wide lockdown.  

    And today, Boris Johnson admitted in a virtual fund-raising event for Conservative party members that people needed to be cautious over the festive period.

    Making London Tier 3 will inflict catastrophic damage, warn Tory MPs

    London's Tory MPs have urged Boris Johnson not to inflict 'untold damage' on the capital by moving it into a tier 3 lockdown this week.

    In a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday, the MPs urge the Prime Minister to spare the capital because shutting it down would hurt not just Londoners, but 'people across the nation' who depend on the 'wealth and prosperity generated by our great city'.

    A decision on whether to plunge London into the highest lockdown before Christmas was going to the wire this weekend, with a row brewing with Ministers after police and local councils objected to plans to divide London into different tiers. 

    With the capital's businesses saying tier 3 would deliver a £3 billion hit to the economy, Ministers including Michael Gove have suggested that only the outer London boroughs with the highest infection rates should go in to the top tier.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock is also understood to be considering splitting the worst-hit parts of the capital off into tier 3 but leaving the majority of the city in tier 2. 

    It would mean restaurants and other hospitality businesses in London's West End could stay open, while those in suburban areas would close.

    In messages revealed today, he said: 'My message to everybody is we do have this period of relaxation of measures at Christmas, but I really urge people to think hard about how you choose to enjoy that relaxation. I really would urge people to err on the side of caution rather than, I'm afraid, have a big blow-out with multiple households.

    'I know the rules say three households, but there is ample scope alas for further increases in this disease during tough winter months.'

    Professor Gilbert also emphasised that behaviour over the festive period will have a 'big impact' on how long it will take to get back to normal on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show today.

    She said: 'What we've seen in the US is that after Thanksgiving, when people were travelling and mixing, there's now been a big surge in infections and they're seeing 3,000 deaths a day now - the highest rate there's ever been in any country.

    'If we have that kind of thing happening over the Christmas holidays in this country, with very high transmission rates then possible in January, it's going to take so much longer to get things back to normal.

    'Because partly all the vaccination clinics will be disrupted. It's not possible to run vaccination clinics when staff are off sick, and there's a very high transmission rate affecting people's ability to come to be vaccinated. So I think what we do over the next few weeks is really going to have a big impact on how long it's going to take to get back to the normal.'

    AstraZeneca has joined a trial exploring whether a combination of its vaccine candidate and the Russian Sputnik V jab can offer improved protection from the virus.

    Sputnik V, currently being made available to Russians in high-risk groups, was given regulatory approval by the Russian government in early August amid criticism after only being tested on several dozen people.

    Prof Gilbert said there was a 'possibility' that the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab could give better protection if combined with other candidates, but added there would be 'much more consideration' before it is used on a larger scale.

    'Well this is just going to be a small trial to start with, to look at what can be achieved by using those two vaccines together,' she told the Andrew Marr Show.

    'There'll obviously be much more consideration given to whether it should be used on a wide scale.

    'So I don't think anybody has anything to worry about.'

    Data indicates the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has 62% efficacy when one full dose is given followed by another full dose, but when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose at least a month later, its efficacy rose to 90%.

    The combined analysis from both dosing regimes resulted in an average efficacy of 70 per cent.

    Meanwhile, the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech, which is currently being rolled out across the UK, has been shown in studies to be 95 per cent effective and works in all age groups.

    The UK has secured 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and 40 million of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

    On concerns over the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, Prof Gilbert said: 'What's important is vaccinating population, not vaccinating people and thinking about efficacy on an individual level.

    'And if we don't have enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate everybody, then we'll be much worse off than being able to vaccinate large numbers of people with other vaccines.'

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