SCIENTISTS are racing to create the first coronavirus vaccine and save millions of lives.
As the number of deaths in the UK nears 45,000, it was revealed that London health chiefs are on standby to start taking deliveries of Covid vaccine stocks in the first week of November.
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When will a coronavirus vaccine be available in the UK?
A vaccine could be available in the UK as soon as early November although this won't be for the general public.
Health sources say staff at a major London hospital trust have been told to be ready to receive the first batches of the Oxford AstraZenica jab from “week commencing the 2 November.”
The Sun has learnt other clinical trials at the famous hospital have been paused as all resources go toward preparing to vaccinate thousands of doctors, nurses and other frontline staff.
However in October 2020, a volunteer in AstraZeneca's clinical trial in Brazil died of coronavirus complications.
The Government signed a deal with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.
This is one of four types of vaccine that the UK government has secured doses for, including the Oxford vaccine.
If the vaccine candidate is proven effective in human studies, the UK could be able to vaccinate priority groups as soon as the first half of 2021.
Matt Hancock has said the best-case scenario is for a vaccine to be available this year.
But the Health Secretary added it will "more likely" be ready in 2021.
The Health department said: “The NHS has a tried and tested track record for delivering vaccination programmes and will work with existing partners across the healthcare system to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine can be deployed safely and effectively.”
The spokesman added: “A Covid-19 vaccine will only be deployed once it has been proven to be safe and effective through robust clinical trials and approved for use by the independent regulator.”
The UK government has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In July 2020 it emerged that Oxford's vaccine produced an immune response.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he is "cautiously optimistic that this vaccine might work".
He went so far as to suggest some doses could be ready "this side of Christmas".
And a vaccine could be fast-tracked and rolled out before it has full authorisation from regulators, The Telegraph reported.
But England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said the chances of having a "highly effective" vaccine before Christmas are still "very low".
The UK Government has secured early access to 90million vaccine doses through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and it is also seeking to secure stocks of 12 vaccines from across the globe.
Have vaccine human trials begun in the UK?
Mr Hancock revealed that a jab developed by Oxford University began human trials in mid-April – with the top university receiving a £20million boost.
An Oxford consortium is testing its vaccines in 6,000 healthy volunteers, including healthcare workers.
The Oxford study is tracking about 1,000 people, half of whom have been given the real vaccine.
But the team plans a later-stage study with another 5,000 volunteers for a final answer and expects it to be tested in other countries.
Imperial College, meanwhile, is involved in two clinical trials testing a vaccine against Covid-19, led by Professor Robin Shattock.
It's joined the Oxford-led clinical study, with trials conducted at multiple centres across the UK, including Oxford, Southampton, Bristol and London.
Expected to run for the next six months, Imperial will be one of several sites carrying out trials of the vaccine, which is being fast-tracked by £22.5million of government funding.
Oxford scientists believe they have made a breakthrough in their quest for a vaccine after discovering that the jab triggers a response that offers a "double defence" against the virus.
The Telegraph reported that phase one of the vaccine has shown that it generates an immune response against the disease.
Blood samples taken from a group of volunteers given a dose of the vaccine showed the body produce both antibodies and "killer T-cells", a senior source told the Telegraph.
The discovery is promising however the source cautioned that the results, while "extremely promising", did not yet prove that the vaccine provides any long-lasting immunity to coronavirus.
In September 2020, Sanofi and GSK vaccine announced the start of human trials, followed by a Phase 3 study in December 2020.
Q and A
CAN we get a vaccine?
Research to find a vaccine is happening continuously, with about 100 studies around the globe. Trials need to show the vaccine is safe.
WHAT’S the UK doing?
A potential vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford has begun its human trials — the first in Europe.
HOW will it be produced?
The Oxford study has linked up with UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to mass produce the potential vaccine on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic.
WHEN will one be available?
Most experts reckon by mid-2021 but the Oxford team says researchers will know if their jab works by this summer.
IS there a drug to treat the coronavirus?
Early results of a US trial suggest antiviral drug remdesivir cuts the number of days patients take to leave hospital by almost a third.
HOW does it work?
Remdesivir, originally developed to treat Ebola, targets a cell enzyme the virus needs.
IS it a game changer?
Potentially. Dr Anthony Fauci, leading member of the US coronavirus task force, said: “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.” But a second trial in China showed no benefit.
WHO is looking for a drug cure?
There are around 300 clinical trials going on worldwide.
Are there other vaccines being tested?
About 100 research groups are pursuing vaccines with nearly a dozen in early stages of human trials or poised to start.
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a vaccine through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Aside from Imperial and Oxford, other researchers in the UK are also making headway in the bid to create a lifesaving jab.
Experts from both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University are lending their expertise to Scancell Holdings Plc, which develops immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer.
Scancell is designing a DNA-based vaccine which will be safely delivered into humans, whose bodies will then produce antibodies and T cells to kill the virus.
Another potential vaccine is being developed by cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco (BAT).
The Benson and Hedges maker said on April 1 it could produce between 1 to 3 million doses per week by June if testing goes well, but it will need support from government agencies.
It claims to have found an antibody that appears to fight Covid-19, using genetically modified tobacco plants but needs US drug authorities to fast-track permissions.
On April 17, Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma said that the Government has set up a vaccine task force to accelerate the development of a coronavirus jab.
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