The Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford could present late-stage trial results before the year end, the chief trial investigator for the vaccine has said.
Working out whether or not the vaccine worked would likely come this year, according to Oxford Vaccine trial chief investigator Andrew Pollard.
After that the data would have to be reviewed by regulators and then a political decision made on who should get the vaccine.
Pollard said there is a “small chance” the vaccine would start to be deployed before Christmas.
This morning chief executive Simon Stevens confirmed the NHS is preparing to distribute potential Covid-19 vaccines in time for Christmas.
GPs are being put on standby to start vaccinating over-85s and frontline health workers from the beginning of next month.
A new Direct Enhanced Service (DES) is set to be announced as soon as next week for practices and primary care networks to start administering the vaccines.
The new DES scheme would enhance GPs’ powers to provide a wider range of services to patients that are not provided under usual contracts.
1.2 million dead
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be one of the first from big pharma to be submitted for regulatory approval, along with Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate.
A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the coronavirus.
The virus has so far killed more than 1.2 million people, shuttered swathes of the global economy and turned normal life upside down for billions of people.
Oxford’s Pollard said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had set the bar for a vaccine being at least 50% effective – a level that would have a transformative impact on the pandemic.
“But to be able scientifically to test 50% is a lot harder – you need a lot more cases to occur in the trials,” he said. “So I think we are all hoping the vaccine will be more effective than that which means we will have an answer sooner.
“What the actual level of efficacy is unknown at the moment – no one has unblinded their trials and looked at the data so far.”
In September health secretary Matt Hancock said a vaccine would “most likely” be available in the first few months of 2021.