'Candle of Hope': UK secures millions of Covid vaccines

16 November 2020, 22:18

The UK has got access to millions of doses of potential coronavirus vaccines
The UK has got access to millions of doses of potential coronavirus vaccines. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Health Secretary last night said there was a "candle of hope" after he confirmed the UK has secured millions of doses of potential coronavirus vaccines.

Speaking at the latest Downing Street press conference, Matt Hancock said "great advances in medical science are coming to the rescue",

On Monday British scientists hailed the announcement that interim data from US company Moderna suggested its vaccine is 94.5% in preventing people getting ill and also works across all age groups, including the elderly.

Britain has now got a deal in place for five million doses of the vaccine - enough for 2.5 million people to potentially be protected from the virus.

Explained: Which Covid-19 vaccines have the UK ordered?

A Government spokesman said the jab would not become available until "spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest".

And last week it was announced that a potential vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is thought to have a 90% success rate in preventing contracting the disease which has so far blighted the entire globe and brought economies to a halt.

The Government has secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of 2020, with a further 30 million doses already ordered.

There have been seven different candidate vaccines secured for use in Britain once they are cleared for use - totalling more than 350 million doses have been "pre-ordered" by the UK government.

England's deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said the Moderna results were "brilliant news".

He told reporters: "Do I feel more encouraged in relation to another messenger RNA vaccine showing that it is making Covid-19 potentially in the future of vaccine preventable disease? Absolutely so.

Read more: Government signs deal for 5 million doses of Moderna Covid vaccine

"It's brilliant news, absolutely brilliant."

He said "pretty much all the vaccines around the world that are in development" work on the coronavirus spike protein.

Matt Hancock said this was a "candle of hope" in the battle against Covid-19
Matt Hancock said this was a "candle of hope" in the battle against Covid-19. Picture: PA

"This really does begin to show us that the spike protein is a completely plausible and effective target for vaccines to working against.

"When we started this journey in February-March we didn't even know that. We are feeling in a happier place."

Trial results are also expected in the next few weeks on a vaccine being developed by British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca and scientists at the University of Oxford.

Read more: US Moderna vaccine could prevent 94.5% of people from getting Covid

Meanwhile, data on a Russian vaccine called Sputnik V has also been released, and based on interim results from a phase 3 trial, the same stage reached by the Pfizer jab, Russian researchers report that it is 92% efficient.

Results from teams working on trials including the Janssen trial, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and Sinopharm in China, and the Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia are also expected soon.

However, a trial in Brazil for a drug developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac has been suspended after the death of a volunteer.