England’s National Health Service (NHS) Chief Executive Simon Stevens said that NHS is setting all its systems ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas if any of the 200 vaccine candidates become available.
Stevens said in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program that they believe one or more of the more than 200 vaccines currently being developed will be available in early 2021. However, he also added that the NHS is preparing in case a vaccine becomes ready before Christmas. “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 told BBC Radio as reported by Reuters.(Photo : REUTERS/Tom Nicholson)
Shoppers wearing protective face masks queue outside a Selfridges store on Oxford Street, after new nationwide restrictions were announced during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, November 4, 2020.
Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine phase 3 interim results
The NHS chief also said they will be writing to general practitioners within this week to ask them to prepare for vaccine administration as initial data of phase 3 testing of some vaccine candidates are expected to come in the next few weeks. One of these candidates is Moderna’s mRNA-1273.
Moderna’s chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said in October that he expects the interim results of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate will be available anytime this month, so they could submit them to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By then, Bancel expects to get emergency approval by December.(Photo : REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020.
To get the first interim analysis of the efficacy of the mRNA-1273 vaccine will be done on 53 people who got symptomatic cases of coronavirus.
On October 29, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) began its rolling review of Moderna’s vaccine candidate as the company completed enrolling all its 30,000 volunteers while 25,654 participants already received their second shot.
The MHRA will accept and consider new evidence as it does its independent assessment of the jab based on information provided by Moderna.
Moderna was chosen by the U.S. government for its “Operation Warp Speed” initiative to speed up the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, so mRNA-1273 is being developed in partnership with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
‘Small chance’ of pre-Christmas vaccine
AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine chief investigator Andrew Pollard said there is a “small chance” a vaccine will be available before Christmas, but he remains optimistic about it.
“I’m optimistic that we could reach that point before the end of this year,” said Andrew Pollard before British lawmakers as reported by CNBC.(Photo : REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)
Vials with a sticker reading, “COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only” and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020.
AstraZeneca is expected to be among the first to submit vaccines for regulatory approval. Pollard is expecting that late-stage trial results will be available this year, so the vaccine can be administered before the yearend or early 2021.
However, in case their vaccine becomes available, trial results will be scrutinized by regulators who would approve before it can be used. Lawmakers would also need to decide who should get the vaccine first.
A vaccine is seen as a game-changer in the coronavirus battle, which already affected 47.5 million people and killed over 1.2 million people across the globe. It gives hope to have the normal life back, which has been turned upside down by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer, wrote in an open letter published on 16 October that the company is hoping to submit its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to get emergency use authorization in the U.S. by the third week of November. Also, the British government has already ordered 30 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, BNT162b2.