Coronavirus vaccine may not be ready for the public until NEXT winter

Coronavirus vaccine may not be ready for the public until NEXT winter, government scientific adviser warns

  • Professor Peter Openshaw warned of nine-month lag in ‘scaling up’ production
  • Comes as Oxford University re-started trials of its vaccine on Saturday
  • And China claimed it had identified a vaccine that is safe and effective

A coronavirus vaccine may not be available to the public until at least September 2021, a Government scientist has warned.

Professor Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London and an advisor to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he expected a nine-month gap between the vaccine’s discovery and it being made available to the public.

The Oxford vaccine, which is thought to be the most-promising in the world, re-started its trials on Saturday after they were suspended over concerns it may cause dangerous side effects.

A British woman taking part was rushed to hospital reportedly suffering from transverse myelitis, or a swelling of the spinal cord. But these claims were denied by AstraZeneca, which owns the rights to the vaccine. 

AstraZeneca has already started producing doses of the vaccine in anticipation of its approval. These will be handed out to countries that have placed orders should they get the go-ahead, with the UK having already bought 100million doses of the experimental jab.

It comes as China claims it has found a coronavirus vaccine that is safe and effective, after hundreds of thousands of citizens given doses and sent abroad did not catch the virus.  

Professor Peter Openshaw, of Imperial College London, warned there could be a nine-month lag between a vaccine being discovered and its production being scaled up

China claims to have a ‘safe and effective’ coronavirus vaccine 

China has claimed it has a coronavirus vaccine that is safe and effective after it was injected into hundreds of thousands of people.

Doses were administered to citizens working at government-owned enterprises overseas and diplomats, according to state-owned publication Science and Technology Daily.

The vaccine is being developed by the China National Biotec Group (CNBG), and is one of its two candidates. 

Quoted in Science and Technology Daily, the media arm for the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology, legal counsel of CNBG, Zhou Song, said: ‘These tens of thousands of people have been overseas for a few months after being vaccinated. Among them, in the areas where the epidemic broke out, some left-behind employees were infected but they were not.

‘Parallel control data like this is available in multiple countries, which proves the effectiveness of the vaccine.’

He added that there were ‘no obvious adverse reactions’. 

CNBG was working on two candidate vaccines, which are both reportedly in final stage trials. It has orders for more than 500million doses.

The company is confident that a vaccine could be available by the end of the year, reports The Times. 

President Xi Jinping has previously stated that should his country develop a vaccine it will be a ‘global public good’.

‘This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries,’ he said in a statement.

Warning of possible delays in making an effective vaccine available, Professor Openshaw told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that ‘rapid scaling up’ would take time.

‘With all the vaccine trials now coming through which are scheduled to deliver a result within the next few months, I do feel that on the basis of what we know about the immune system that it’s likely that these immune responses that are being induced by these vaccines may be protective for at least a few months, possibly even years, we just don’t know yet, it’s early days.

‘I do think that we will probably have a positive result of at least one of these vaccine trials, probably more than that, by Christmas.

‘And that means that with rapid scaling up we might have vaccination programmes that can roll out to some parts of the world in the next nine months.

‘Before the winter of 21/22 I hope that we should have vaccines that are effective.’

His words came as China claimed to have found an effective vaccine, according to the state-owned publication Science and Technology Daily.

It quoted Zhou Song, the legal counsel for China National Biotec Group, alleging the vaccine had been shown to be effective after it was injected into hundreds of thousands of state employees.

‘These tens of thousands of people have been overseas for a few months after being vaccinated,’ he reportedly said. ‘Among them, in the areas where the epidemic broke out, some left-behind employees were infected but they were not.

‘Parallel control data like this is available in multiple countries, which proves the effectiveness of the vaccine.’

The Oxford coronavirus vaccine, called AZD1222, restarted its clinical trials on Saturday.

‘The independent review process has concluded and following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the UK regulator, the MHRA, the trials will recommence in the UK,’ a spokesman said.

It had been reported that the trials were stopped due to one of the volunteers developing transverse myelitis, a swelling in the spinal cord.

But this was denied by the CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, who said more tests were needed before a final diagnosis could be made. The condition suffered cannot be revealed publicly due to patient anonymity requirements.

Speaking last week, Mr Soriot remained confident that the vaccine could be made available by the end of this year.

He said that is was ‘very common’ for trials of vaccines to be paused when possible side-effects are identified, before they can be re-started. 

The UK’s taskforce has secured more than 200million doses of potential vaccines being produced worldwide

  • GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur vaccine, based on seasonal flu: 60million doses  
  • AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, genetically engineered virus: 100million
  • BioNTech/Pfizer, mRNA vaccine using genetic material from virus: 30million
  • Valneva, an inactivated whole virus: 60million
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), injects proteins from virus surface: 30million
  • Novavax, proteins from virus surface: 60million
  • Imperial College London, mRNA vaccine using genetic material from the virus: Amount not confirmed

The trial was also paused in July, AstraZeneca has revealed, after another possible side-effect was identified.

The vaccine is yet to be proven to be effective. It has been trialled in more than 18,000 people around the world to ensure it is safe for use. 

The UK’s Health Secretary said last week that he expected a coronavirus vaccine to be ready in the first few months of 2021.

Speaking on LBC radio, Mr Hancock said: ‘We have got 30million doses already contracted with AstraZeneca.

‘In fact they are starting to manufacture those doses already, ahead of approval, so that should approval come through – and it’s still not certain but it is looking up – should that approval come through then we are ready to roll out.

‘The best-case scenario is that happens this year. I think more likely is the early part of next year – in the first few months of next year is the most likely.

‘But we’ve also bought vaccine ahead of it getting approved from a whole different series of international vaccines as well.’

The Government’s chief scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance, has also predicted that a coronavirus vaccine should be available by the end of this year or early next year.

He warned at a Downing Street press briefing that although research is ‘progressing’ a vaccine could still be at least four months away.

‘Vaccines are progressing, some will read out this year in terms of efficacy and safety,’ he said. ‘I think there’s a reasonable chance that therefore we can think about the possibility of vaccination next year some time at larger levels.’

Sir Vallance added there are 200 possible vaccines in development globally and eight have entered the last stage of clinical trials.

‘What we do know already is that many of these vaccines are showing the right immune response,’ he said this afternoon.

‘So people who have been vaccinated volunteers who’ve been vaccinated are generating an immune response to the virus.

‘We don’t know how long that will last but the immune response looks good in many cases and it’s seen in the elderly as well as others.’

Race for a coronavirus vaccine: Nine candidates in final stage of clinical trials

As scientists race to develop a coronavirus vaccine to bring the world back to normal, MailOnline has taken a look at the prospective candidates.

Vaccine trials were halted on Wednesday but it may still be ready this year

The Oxford Vaccine

When will it be ready?: The end of 2020/ early 2021. Despite the trials being suspended on Wednesday, its developers and Number 10 remain confident that the vaccine could be ready for use either at the end of this year or early next year. They say a pause is common in trials, and that its development was also stopped in July after a suspected side-effect was detected.

How does it work?: The vaccine works by exposing participants to a weakened common cold adenovirus which has had proteins from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 attached to its surface. The idea is that the exposure allows the immune system to build an immune response, meaning they are protected if they are infected by the real virus. 

Has the UK secured doses?: Yes, 100 million. The US has secured a further 300 million doses, along with several other countries. These will be rolled out in an equitable manner.

How much does it cost?: AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University, has said it will not profit from the it, but may earn extra royalties if the coronavirus becomes an endemic infection like flu. The US has spent $1.2 billion (£930 million) securing doses, meaning they are worth $4 (£3.10) each.

Biontech, Germany

Biontech vaccine may be ready this year

When will it be ready?: At the end of this year, say researchers. The vaccine is being developed by a German company in partnership with American drugmaker Pfizer. It is recruiting 30,000 volunteers to its stage three trials.

How does it work?: This is an RNA vaccine, a type that has never been approved by regulators before. It will involve injecting a fragment of genetic material from coronavirus into participants. This will expose their immune systems to a weakened version of the virus and, hopefully, trigger a response which will protect them from the real virus.

Has the UK secured doses?: Yes, 30 million doses. The US has also ordered 100 million doses. 

Price?: The US is paying $2 billion (£1.5 billion) for its doses, or about $20 (£15) a jab.

Moderna, US

Moderna vaccine entered human trials

When will it be ready?: Very end of this year or next year. The vaccine has recruited 20,000 participants for its stage three trials. Providing no potential side effects are observed, it will then go through to a second test on more patients next month. This means it could be available by the end of 2020.

How does it work?: This is an RNA-based vaccine, similar to the one being developed by Biontech. 

Has the UK secured doses?: No. Reports suggest the UK’s task force has not managed to secure any doses of this vaccine.

How much does it cost?: The US has ordered 100 million doses at a price of $1.5 billion (£1.1 billion). This means one jab costs $32 (£25).

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, UK and France

Sanofi vaccine won’t be available this year

When will it be ready?: First half of 2021. The vaccine entered phase two clinical trials in September, involving 440 adults. It will reach phase three trials in December this year. There may be setbacks along the way, meaning the vaccine could take longer to develop. 

How does it work?: Participants are injected with DNA coding for the antigens of the coronavirus and a chemical which makes it more potent. It is hoped this will trigger an immune response.

Has the UK secured doses?: Yes. Up to 60 million will be supplied should the vaccine be shown to work.

How much does it cost?: Unknown. This information has not been provided.

Sputnik V, Russia

Sputnik V is safe, according to Kremlin, but it has been criticised by scientists

When will it be ready?: ‘Imminently’. The Russian medical research institute and Russian defence ministry have developed this vaccine. But it has faced serious criticism both inside and outside Russia because results from its human trials are yet to be published. It also hasn’t cleared large human trials, with researchers only launching one involving 40,000 volunteers on 26 August. Scientists say the vaccine has been rushed without proper checks, and could pose a risk to those taking it. The Kremlin began appealing for volunteers for the vaccine this week after a first batch was produced, according to the TASS news agency.

How does it work?: The Russian vaccine works by carrying a piece of the coronavirus genetic code into a participant via another virus. It is hoped this will produce an immune response.

Has the UK secured doses?: No. Countries lining up to try the vaccine include Mexico, which has secured 32 million doses, and Kazakhstan, which is set to buy two million.

How much does it cost?: The price of the vaccine is yet to be revealed.

Sinovac, China

It is not clear when the Sinovac vaccine will be available

When will it be ready?: Unknown. The vaccine entered final-stage trials in Brazil in July, and then in Indonesia in August. Results show that while younger and middle-aged people produced antibodies, older people had a weaker immune response. The vaccine was given emergency approval for limited use in July, reports suggest, although it appears to still be subject to testing. It was previously reported as being second only to the Oxford vaccine, but its complete test results are yet to be published. It is one of four vaccine candidates in development in China.

How does it work?: It involves injecting patients with an inactivated form of the virus, prompting their immune systems to develop a response. 

Has the UK secured doses?: Unknown. Reports suggest no doses have been secured.

How much does it cost?: China is yet to publish this information.

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