Hopes of new vaccine approval within days rise as NHS chiefs urge people to stick to rules over New Year

There are hopes a second Covid-19 vaccine will be approved within days as NHS bosses warn of the immediate risk to the service over New Year.

Monday, 28th December 2020, 9:37 am
Updated Monday, 28th December 2020, 9:38 am

It has been reported the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could soon be backed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with around 10,000 volunteers recruited to help distribute it amid hopes of a mass rollout from Monday, January 4.

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Professor Calum Semple has described the immunisation, which could follow the The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as a “game changer” if it is given approval.

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There are hopes the Oxford/AstraZeneca could join the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 immunisation within days.

Prof Semple, a respiratory disease expert and member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “It can be stored at a more convenient temperature and it can therefore be moved around the country a lot more easily.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Monday, December 28, he said: “This vaccine is very important because not only does it generate the antibodies that protect you from being infected, it also generates these ‘hunter killer cells’ – the T cells – that actually deal with infection.

“They help people who have some degree of infection, if a little bit of virus escapes and starts causing infection it can actually treat that disease as well in the people that have been vaccinated, so it’s a very, very good vaccine.”

Meanwhile, people are being urged to follow the rules over New Year to help “curb the spread” of the virus, with the new variant – said to be transmitted more easily – now found in a number of countries.

The group which represents NHS trusts in England issued the warning as cases rise across the UK.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The public should be under no illusions that this is one of the most challenging times for the NHS.

“It is vital that everyone heeds the new rules and restrictions in the run-up to the New Year and beyond.

“After all, it takes a lot longer to curb the spread of the virus than it does to contract it.

“But despite the difficulties the service is facing, there is hope.

“The vaccine is here and is being rolled out, hopefully to all vulnerable groups by late spring.”

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