Vaccine chief in Britain hopes for positive data on 2 coronavirus candidates in early December


The chair of Britain’s coronavirus vaccine task force says data evaluating the efficacy and safety of its two most advanced candidates should be available in early December.

Kate Bingham told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that data on the two vaccine candidates — developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and Pfizer and BioNTech — should be available by then.

After that, the vaccine candidates will need regulatory approval, Bingham said. 

“If we get that, we have the possibility of deploying by year end,” she said.

Bingham acknowledged despite the government’s earlier estimate there would be 30 million doses of the Oxford vaccine available by September, there only will be about four million doses available by the end of the year, due to some manufacturing “hiccups” that have since been resolved.

She said there will be about 10 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

Dr. Robin Shattock, one of the scientists behind another vaccine developed by Imperial College London, said it’s possible several vaccines will be needed to stop the pandemic.

“The first vaccines may reach the bar of preventing severe disease, but they may not necessarily block transmission,” he said.

Shattock said later vaccines likely will be more potent, but it’s still unclear how long immunity lasts and vaccines “most likely will need to be boosted.”

Canadian experts advise on priority groups for vaccine

On Tuesday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement that although there is no approved COVID-19 vaccine at this time, “we remain cautiously optimistic that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be available in the first quarter of 2021.”

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), a long-standing expert advisory group that provides independent guidance and recommendation on use of vaccines in Canada, published preliminary recommendations on key populations for early COVID-19 vaccination.

The four broad populations recommended  for early immunization were:

  • Individuals at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 (including advanced age and other high-risk conditions).
  • Those most likely to transmit COVID-19 to people at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, such as health-care and long-term care workers. 
  • Workers contributing to the maintenance of other essential services for the functioning of society.
  • Anyone at elevated risk of infection because of living or working conditions and where infection could have disproportionate consequences, including Indigenous communities.

The key populations were not mutually exclusive, may overlap and are not listed in priority order, the authors said.

Vaccines that work could eventually allow the world to return to some measure of normality after the pandemic has killed more than 1.2 million worldwide, upended lives and shuttered swaths of the global economy.



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