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UK Vaccine Taskforce chief says first COVID-19 vaccines ‘likely to be imperfect’

Taskforce has so far secured access to six potential COVID-19 vaccines

The head of the UK Vaccine Taskforce Kate Bingham said on Wednesday that the first vaccines for COVID-19 are ‘likely to be imperfect’.

Bingham also added that the first vaccines could become available in Britain this year, if the shots prove both ‘safe and effective’.

If the first two vaccines, or either of them, show that they are both safe and effective, I think there is a possibility that vaccine roll-out will start this side of Christmas,” Bingham said on BBC television.

“Otherwise I think it’s more realistic to expect it to be early next year,” she added.

The vaccine taskforce has so far secured access to six potential COVID-19 vaccines, including candidates from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, Pfizer and BioNTech, Janssen, Novavax, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi and Valneva.

The most advanced of these candidates are based on novel formats, such as Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA-based candidate BNT162b2.

If these candidates prove effective in large-scale phase 3 trials, the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce has options to purchase enough doses of each vaccine to administer to the ‘appropriate’ UK population.

Despite promising initial data from earlier trials of the first vaccine candidates, Bingham urged against ‘complacency and over-optimism’.

“The first generation of vaccines is likely to be imperfect, and we should be prepared that they might not prevent infection but rather reduce symptoms and, even then, might not work for everyone or for long,” she added.

Pfizer is expecting the first efficacy data from its phase 3 trial of BNT162b2, with chief executive officer Albert Bourla revealing in an open letter published last week that the company will not submit the vaccine for emergency use authorisation in the US until the third week of November.

In an earnings call on Tuesday, Bourla reiterated this timeline, adding that “in [the] case of a conclusive read-out, positive or negative, we will inform the public as soon as we complete the necessary administrative work, which we estimate to be completed within one week from the time we know”.

"We may know whether or not the vaccine demonstrates efficacy soon," he added.

The UK’s agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech, signed in July, will see the companies supply 30 million doses of their mRNA-based vaccine candidate for the British public.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

29th October 2020

From: Research

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