UK Likely to Have Coronavirus Vaccine by Early Next Year: Health Secretary
U.K. health secretary Matt Hancock on Monday said a COVID-19 vaccine would “most likely” be available in the first few months of 2021, as the country recorded a sharp rise in daily coronavirus cases.
Speaking on national news radio station LBC, Hancock said the government has already started production of the U.K. government’s initial order of 30 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, which is being developed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca AZN, -1.07% in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
“We have got 30 million doses already contracted with AstraZeneca, in fact they are starting to manufacture those doses already, ahead of approval, so that should approval come through — and it’s still not certain but it is looking up — should that approval come through, then we are ready to roll out,” Hancock told LBC.
“The best-case scenario is that happens this year. I think more likely is the early part of next year — in the first few months of next year is the most likely,” he added.
U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly considering plans to fast-track approval of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in a bid to make it available to Americans before November’s election.
The vaccine hasn’t been approved for use and is still undergoing late-stage clinical trials in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa.
Hancock’s comments come after the U.K. recorded a surge in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus. On Sunday, a further 2,988 cases of coronavirus were reported in the country, the highest number reported on a single day since May 22, and a rise of 1,175 on Saturday, according to the U.K. government’s coronavirus dashboard.
Two deaths were recorded within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 41,551, the government said.
The rise in cases prompted Professor Gabriel Scally, a former National Health Service regional director of public health for the south west, to tell the Guardian that the government had “lost control of the virus.”