But health secretary says government is preparing logistics ahead of vaccine availability
The UK health secretary has dampened down hopes of a Covid-19 vaccine before Christmas, saying he does not expect the rollout of the vaccine until 2021.
“I would expect the bulk of the rollout to be in the first half of next year,” he told the BBC’s Today programme on 26 October.
Hancock added that it was “not his central expectation” to have the vaccine ready for NHS staff this year, as some media have reported.
“The [vaccine] programme is progressing well,” he said, but added “we’re not there yet”.
“We don’t know when the first vaccine will be available, but my central expectation is in the first half of next year.”
He added that the government is working with the NHS and the armed forces to prepare for the rollout so the logistics will be ready when the vaccine becomes available.
His comments come as the US trial of the UK’s leading vaccine, Oxford University’s ChAdOx1 nCov-2019, has been given the green light to restart, following a pause after safety concerns this summer.
The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised the restart, the university announced on 23 October. Trials have already restarted in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and Japan.
“We are very pleased the FDA has reached the same conclusion as the other regulators of the clinical trial sites around the world, declaring the trial safe to proceed in the US,” said Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial.
“This will enable our partner AstraZeneca to begin trialling the vaccine in another 30,000 volunteers, taking our combined large-scale, phase-three clinical trials to 50,000 globally. We will continue to adhere to our rigorous safety processes while moving as quickly as possible so we can start protecting people around the world against this terrible virus as soon as possible.”