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NHS gearing up for possible pre-Christmas COVID-19 vaccinations

NHS chief exec said the NHS is getting ready to administer vaccines

England’s National Health Service (NHS) is preparing to roll-out COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas if one of the many candidates in development becomes available by then, according to its chief executive Simon Stevens.

Stevens told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "There are over 200 vaccines in development and we believe that we should hopefully get one or more of those available from the first part of next year.”

"In anticipation of that we're also gearing the NHS up to be ready to make a start on administering COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas, if they become available,” he added.

A number of COVID-19 vaccine candidates are currently in phase 3 testing, with initial data expected in the coming weeks.

"We will be writing to GP practices this week to get them geared up to start by Christmas if the vaccine becomes available,” Stevens added.

Earlier this month, Moderna’s chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said the he expects the company to be ready to submit its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November.

Bancel also previously told Business Insider that the company would most likely know in November whether or not its COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, works against the novel coronavirus.

Last week, it was also revealed that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has started a rolling review of Moderna’s potential vaccine.

This means that the MHRA will begin an independent assessment of the vaccine using information submitted by Moderna, and will accept and consider new evidence as and when it becomes available.

In an open letter published on 16 October, Pfizer’s chief executive officer Albert Bourla said that the company is hoping to submit its BioNTech-partnered COVID-19 vaccine candidate for emergency use authorisation in the US in the third week of November.

The UK government has already forged a partnership with Pfizer and BioNTech for 30 million doses of their vaccine, BNT162b2.

In August, the UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty had said that is unlikely that there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 before winter 2021.

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

According to Sky News, Andrew Pollard – the chief investigator of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine – said there is a ‘small chance’ a vaccine will be available before Christmas.

Pollard told the Science and Technology Committee that he is ‘optimistic’ that the AZ/Oxford University vaccine could have late-stage trial results before the new year.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

4th November 2020

From: Healthcare

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