Vaccine breakthrough shouldn't be seen as overnight victory, expert warns

9 November 2020, 19:21

By Sam Sholli

This is the moment an expert in infectious diseases told LBC that the latest coronavirus vaccine breakthrough shouldn't be viewed as "an overnight victory".

Peter Horby, who is a Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Oxford and also a member of the Department of Health's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), made the comments to Eddie Mair.

The breakthrough has been made, after initial studies showed the vaccine can prevent 90% of people contracting the virus. It has been tested on 43,500 people in the US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.

The developers, Pfizer and BioNTech, plan to apply for emergency approval so the drug can start to be used by the end of the month after no safety issues were raised.

Professor Horby told LBC: We need to see more data coming in to confirm the early results to see if [the vaccine] really does have that efficacy of 90%."

He added: "But then we need to make sure it's safe. This is very important because if you're going to use vaccines in tens of millions or even billions of people [then] you really have to make sure it's safe."

"What we're going to see is bumps along the way. The data may come back not as positive. We may see some early safety signals. There may be problems in the scale-up and production..."

The professor added: "So we shouldn't think of this as an overnight victory. This is still going to be a long haul. This is not going to make a difference, I don't think, in this wave.

"We're still going to be tackling this virus for the next 18 months [to] two years at least, and the vaccines will start to play a bigger and bigger role.

"But it's not going to go away and we have to really be clear that we're still going to need the other interventions, like the social distancing and the lockdown, for at least the next six months to a year on and off..."