No vaccines for COVID-19 have yet to have been approved but there are two frontrunners in the late-stages of clinical trials in the UK
The UK’s National Health Service is getting ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas if a jab is ready, NHS England’s chief executive has said.
Sir Simon 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.”
This comes after Sir Keir Starmer has said that the “human cost” of a delayed lockdown is the fault of the PM and the Chancellor in a speech to UK business leaders.
Last week, she wrote in the Lancet medical journal: “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.”
It follows warnings from government scientists the NHS will be overwhelmed with thousands more deaths unless action is taken.
Sir Simon said: “In many parts of the country we’re now seeing more coronavirus inpatients in hospital and in intensive care than we saw in the first peak in April.”
“We are obviously adding as much capacity as we can in anticipation of not only coronavirus but the extra winter pressures that always come along with this time of year,” he said.
“And the reason we want to try and minimise the number of coronavirus infections and patients is not only because of the excess death rate that implies, but because of the knock-on consequences it has for other services – routine operations, cancer care.”
“And so if we want to preserve those other services so that the health service can continue to help the full range of patients, we need to do everything we can, together, to keep the infection rate down for coronavirus.”
This comes after the first generation of coronavirus vaccines “is likely to be imperfect” and “might not work for everyone”, according to the chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce.
A committee that is advising the government on coronavirus vaccines has already set out plans for which groups should be initially prioritised for receiving a vaccine for COVID-19.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said that care home employees and residents should be the first in the nation to be given any approved coronavirus vaccine.
Afterwards, everyone in the country aged 80 and over, as well as health and social care workers should be next to receive a vaccine for COVID-19.
Overall, there are over 200 vaccine candidates currently in development throughout the world, with 44 that are in clinical trials.
Of the 44, nine of the vaccines in clinical trials are in the phase three stage of the clinical evaluation process and are being given to thousands of people to confirm safety and effectiveness.