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.”
It is unlikely the jabs will be administered before Christmas, which Sir Jeremy thinks “will be tough this year” and “not like a normal Christmas for almost everybody”.
But he is expecting data on vaccines in November and December, pointing out that the UK has a “portfolio” of potential options.
He is also hopeful that treatments will begin to make a big difference in the new year.
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 the University of Oxford 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 continued: “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 – and is planning to produce 1.3bn jabs in 2021.
Sir Jeremy, speaking on Sophy Ridge On Sunday, said the UK is in an “extraordinarily strong position” and the “vaccine taskforce 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 better treatments being ready before a vaccine, saying: “I do believe that monoclonal antibodies to treat patients and save lives will be available in the coming months.”