More than one coronavirus vaccine will be available in the first quarter of 2021, a government scientific adviser has told Sky News.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, who sits on the SAGE committee, said: “I think in the first quarter of next year we will have vaccines – will have more than one vaccine.”
His optimism echoes that of Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, who has reportedly said a mass rollout of the jab being created at Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca could happen around the turn of the year.
Thousands of NHS staff will be trained to administer a vaccine, The Sunday Times added, with inoculations potentially beginning soon after Christmas.
In a briefing to MPs on Monday afternoon, Professor Van-Tam apparently said “we aren’t light years away” from a jab.
He added: “It isn’t a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could deploy a vaccine soon after Christmas,” adding that such a development would have a “significant impact on hospital admissions and deaths”.
Professor Van-Tam is said to be expecting third stage results from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of November.
Another multinational drug company, Pfizer, has already manufactured several hundred thousand doses of a jab at a plant in Belgium, the Mail on Sunday said.
It is reportedly hoping to make 100m doses available this year, 40m of which are destined for the UK.
The firm is planning to make 1.3bn jabs in 2021.
Sir Jeremy, speaking on Sophy Ridge On Sunday, said the UK is in an “extraordinarily strong position” and that the “vaccine task has done an absolutely extraordinary job”.
He continued: “Britain has access to a number of different vaccines across a range of different approaches.
“Vaccines come in all different styles and approaches and Britain has got a portfolio of vaccines, through which more than one, I’m sure, will come through in the first quarter of next year.”
Sir Jeremy was also optimistic about effective treatments, saying they “may come sooner than the vaccines”.
He said: “Dexamethasone we know about from the brilliant RECOVERY trial in the UK.
“And we know now that there are coming so-called monoclonal antibodies, which will attack the virus and prevent patients getting worse.”