New Covid vaccines in pill, patch and nasal spray form will speed up rollout, says jabs chief

VACCINES should be administered in pill, patch and nasal spray form to speed up the rollout, one expert has claimed.

Former Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce Kate Bingham this morning revealed she had taken part in the Novavax trial and said that new ways of administering vaccines were needed.

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The Government has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax jab, which has been found to be effective in 89.3 per cent of Covid-19 cases.

The vaccine is also 85.6 per cent effective against the UK variant of Covid-19.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Bingham said the process needed to be sped up, and suggested that people should be allowed to self-administer pills, patches and nasal sprays.

She said: "We need to improve the vaccine formats because, frankly, two injections delivered by healthcare professionals is not a good way of delivering vaccines.

"We need to get vaccine formats which are much more scalable and distributable, so, whether they are pills or patches or nose sprays, we need to find better ways of developing and delivering vaccines, and we'll do that in collaboration, just as we've been doing that over the last few months."

Sixty million doses of the Novavax vaccine will be produced on Teesside and the jabs will add to the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech jabs that are already being administered across the UK, once it has been approved by regulators.

Data from the government's coronavirus dashboard shows that so far more than 7.4 million Brits have received their first dose of one of the two jabs, while more than 476,000 have also received their second.

Mass vaccination sites are up and running across the country and people are also getting their jabs at GP surgeries and pharmacies.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Ms Bingham hailed the development from Novavax after the UK's coronavirus death toll topped over 100,000 this week.

She said: "After all the rather terrible news of the deaths that we have seen over the last few weeks, actually the news last night was just phenomenal, I'm just incredibly happy.

"I’m actually a participant in the Novavax trial, so I’m especially happy that that trial has shown that the  vaccine is so effective not only against the original variant, but especially against both the Kent variant that we have seen – the new variant in the UK as well as the South African variant which is one of definite concern.

"The fact that we are seeing efficacy from this vaccine should give us a lot of cause for optimism."

While getting the jabs into the arms of millions of Brits has been a top priority for the government, new strains have also been high on the agenda.

It was this week revealed that the Pfizer jab does work against mutant variants such as the UK and South African strain.

Professor Paul Heath, the Novavax Phase 3 trial chief investigator, said he believed that vaccines could be adapted "at pace" to target new variants of coronavirus after the Novavax jab was found to be effective against the Kent variant.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the results from his trial were "yet another great step forward for the UK".

Prof Heath added: "I think the technology we have both with this vaccine, the Novavax technology, and the other vaccines, it is such that they can adapt quickly so we can expect to see, if required, new vaccines or bivalent vaccines, where two different strains are joined together in the one vaccine.

"And that now can be done at pace so that we can keep up with these variants should they prove to be difficult to prevent with the vaccine that we have at the moment.

"We've seen for the UK that the UK variant can be successfully prevented with this vaccine, which is great.

"Yes, the South African variant is more difficult and hopefully there will not be more variants but we may expect to see some as time goes on."

TACKLE THE VIRUS

Experts have said that the Novavax jab will help the UK tackle the pandemic.

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi, one of 15,000 UK volunteers to take part in the Novavax trials, said: “I am particularly thrilled to see such positive results.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “If approved by the regulator, the vaccine will be a significant boost and another weapon in our arsenal to beat this awful virus."

Experts this morning said the UK is "well placed" to tackle the virus with a plethora of vaccines on hand.

 

Steve Bates, Chief Executive of the BioIndsutry Association (BIA), said the Novavax news was an "incredible development".

He said: "This announcement is down to the foresight and planning of the UK Government Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) with the UK playing a crucial role in the Novavax global clinical trial, with more than 15,000 UK citizens participating.

“In six months the VTF has built a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates that includes established vaccine platforms with proven safety profiles such as Novavax and Valneva, and newer but clinically advanced platforms, including Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen and Moderna.

"This multitude of vaccines means the UK will be well placed to combat variants and ensures that we have the necessary supply to vaccinate the UK population."

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