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COVID-19 vaccine ‘unlikely’ to be available this year, says UK’s chief medical officer

Chris Whitty warns that there is no certainty that an effective vaccine will be available before winter 2021

The UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty has said it is unlikely that there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 before winter 2021.

Whitty told reporters yesterday that there is a ‘reasonable chance’ that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready before the winter of 2021/2022, but warned that this is still not a certainty.

He added it would be ‘foolish’ for plans to be made for the season with the assumption that an effective vaccine will be available by then.

“We should plan on the basis that we will not have a vaccine and then if one does prove to be effective, safe and available then we’re in a strong position to be able to use it and that will be great, but we should be planning on the basis of what we currently have,” Whitty said.

During the interview, Whitty also called on parents to send their children back to school, saying that children are more likely to be harmed by not returning next month than if they catch COVID-19.

The UK government has said that schools in England are expected to return on a full-time basis, and will open for all year groups.

“There’s…very clear evidence from the UK and around the world that it is far less common for children to get a severe illness and end up having to be hospitalised if they get symptomatic COVID-19,” Whitty added.

Earlier this month, US National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins said that regulatory approval for any potential COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to occur before November this year.

In a call with reporters, Collins said he is still confident that at least one of the several candidates funded by the US’ Operation Warp Speed initiative will be shown to be safe and effective by the end of the year.

“I know there is some concern because of this warp speed label that maybe corners are being cut that shouldn’t be. I want to reassure you and everybody else that we will not allow that to happen,” he said.

Health experts across the globe have raised concerns over the speed at which COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, with the expedited timescales fuelling worries that potential shots may not undergo the robust testing needed to prove efficacy and safety.

Despite the worries, vaccine developers are racing towards approval for their respective vaccine candidates, with Pfizer/BioNTech announcing last week that they are aiming for authorisation of their mRNA-based shot by October.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

24th August 2020

From: Healthcare

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