Oxford scientists: UK vaccination campaign ‘very unlikely’ to start before Christmas

The results of the first batch of new crown vaccines are likely to be ready in the coming weeks, but there is no guarantee that vaccination campaigns will begin before Christmas,media BGR reported. Andrew Pollard, a professor at oxford University and a leading researcher on the promising COVID-19 vaccine developed in partnership with AstraZeneta, told the British Parliament that the chances of the drug being ready before Christmas were “very small.”

Oxford scientists: UK vaccination campaign 'very unlikely' to start before Christmas

It is estimated that the final clinical trial results of at least three new crown candidates will begin this month, and AstraZeneta/Oxford, Moderna and Pfizer/Biotech will soon share the news. Drugs that pass the efficacy and safety requirements will enter the emergency use authorization process, and the first COVID-19 vaccinations are likely to begin by the end of 2020.

Given recent outbreaks in the U.S. and Europe, Pfizer appears to be the company most likely to apply for emergency use. The situation in Europe is different, with both the UK and the EU moving rapidly to develop new crown vaccines. AstraZeneta suspended its Phase 3 study in the U.S. for several weeks longer than in Europe after a security incident in early September. That’s why the drug may have been approved earlier in Europe than in the United States. But an Oxford University scientist believes there is only a “very small” chance that vaccination campaigns in the UK will start before Christmas.

Andrew Pollard, a professor at Oxford University, told MPs at a joint hearing of the Commons science and health committee: “I think it’s very unlikely, but I just don’t know.” Pollard is the chief scientist of the Oxford experiment. Companies participating in Phase 3 trials were unable to obtain data and were assessed by an independent commission.

“I’m optimistic that we can get to that point by the end of the year and do an analysis, ” the professor said. “We absolutely need to do this, so everything in clinical trials needs to be reviewed very carefully to see the integrity and quality of the data and verify that the results are correct.”

Pollard also points out that once the results are known, problems arise. A good outcome, he says, would be a vaccine with significant efficacy. “Whether it’s 50, 60, 70, 80, or whatever the numbers are, it’s a huge achievement, and it means that from a health system perspective, fewer Coved patients are in hospital,” he said. “People with cancer can have surgery and all the chemotherapy.”

The FDA’s minimum threshold for new crown vaccines is 50 percent, but Europe does not set a minimum. A 50% efficacy means that the number of COVID-19 infections in the placebo group is at least twice as high as the number of people infected in the actual vaccine group. Dr. Folch recently explained that the goal of the vaccine is not to stop infection, but to stop serious diseases.

The Oxford scientist said other vaccines could be approved before the Oxford vaccine, and he hopes there are many success stories. To meet global demand, multiple vaccines are needed.

Kate Bingham, head of the UK Vaccine Task Force, told the same committee that “it could be a few weeks” before we see interim data on both vaccines, including candidates for AstraZeneta and Pfizer. Britain, like the United States, has signed agreements on the two drugs.

Bingham confirmed that vaccine production is already under way and is expanding at an unprecedented rate, “starting with low doses – I mean millions of doses, but not the first tens of millions of doses – so that we will eventually get 100 million doses from AZ in the first half of next year.” Researchers and company officials have explained in the past that these drugs are only used if the vaccine is safe and effective. They say that if regulators approve the vaccine, it is worth risking early production to prepare some vaccines.