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COVID-19 vaccine: Two phase III efficacy clinical trials are now underway in the UK (AFP)
COVID-19 vaccine: Two phase III efficacy clinical trials are now underway in the UK (AFP)

COVID-19 vaccine may be available before Christmas

  • The first phase III efficacy data from the leading vaccine candidates are due by the end of 2020, Kate Bingham said
  • The first-generation of vaccines to fight the COVID-19 infection may not be perfect and may not work for everyone, she added

A COVID-19 vaccine may be available for some people before Christmas, Kate Bingham, the chair of the UK government’s vaccine taskforce said in an interview. However, an early 2021 launch is more likely, she added.

"The first phase III efficacy data from the leading vaccine candidates are due by the end of 2020, subject to accruing sufficient rates of infection within the clinical trial cohorts to show the vaccines' efficacy. The primary endpoint is to show that the vaccine can protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection and reduce symptom burden," Bingham wrote in medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday.

Two phase III efficacy clinical trials are now underway in the UK — the Oxford AstraZeneca adenovirus-vectored vaccine and Novavax's protein-adjuvant vaccine

"If the first two vaccines, or either of them, show that they are both safe and effective, I think there is a possibility that vaccine roll out will start this side of Christmas, but otherwise I think it's more realistic to expect it to be early next year," Kate Bingham said on BBC television.

The first-generation of vaccines to fight the COVID-19 infection may not be perfect and may not work for everyone, she earlier mentioned. “The first generation of vaccines is likely to be imperfect, and we should be prepared that they might not prevent infection but rather reduce symptoms, and, even then, might not work for everyone or for long,"

British pharma giant AstraZeneca earlier said the trials of its coronavirus vaccine pioneered with Oxford University had shown "encouraging" responses among elderly, as well as younger participants.

The UK vaccine taskforce secured access to six vaccines (from more than 240 vaccines in development) across four different formats: adenoviral vectors, mRNA, adjuvanted proteins, and whole inactivated viral vaccines, which are promising in different ways.

The UK is committed to ensuring that everyone at risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, anywhere in the world, has access to a safe and effective vaccine, she mentioned in the journal.

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine still possible in 2020

Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla expressed optimism over the prospect of providing a coronavirus vaccine in 2020. "We have reached the last mile here," Bourla said.

The drug giant could supply some 40 million doses in the United States in 2020 if clinical testing proceeds as expected and regulators approve a vaccine, he further mentioned. But Bourla said the company still had not reached key benchmarks in assessing vaccine efficacy. He said the company expects to file for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in the third week of November, roughly in line with earlier timetables.

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