Coronavirus vaccine – all you need to know about the jabs that will be available in UK

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The race is on to roll out a coronavirus vaccine as soon as one is approved in the UK.

On Wednesday Pfizer, who are working with German partner BioNTech, revealed that its Covid-19 vaccine is 95% effective, according to final results from late-stage trials.

Efficacy in adults over 65 years, who are at particular risk from the virus, was over 94%, the pharmaceutical giant says.

The final analysis comes just one week after initial results from the trial showed the vaccine was more than 90% effective.

The company said it had the required two-months of safety data and would apply for emergency US authorisation within days.

The race is on to roll out a coronavirus vaccine once approved
(Image: Getty Images)

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But experts say more than one vaccine will be needed to combat the pandemic, and researchers across the world are working to develop jabs that protect against the virus.

There are more than 200 candidates being tested around the world.

Earlier this week, US drugs firm Moderna released preliminary data for its vaccine, showing theirs had 90% effectiveness.

Around 12 are in in the final stages of testing but the joint BioNTech Pfizer partnership and Moderna are the first two to report any results.

The better-than-expected data from the two vaccines, both developed with new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), have raised hopes for an end to a resurgent pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people globally and wreaked havoc on economies and daily life.

The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective
(Image: REUTERS)

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A third participant in the race is being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, which is also in phase three clinical trials.

It is thought results of the Oxford-AstraZeneca trials will be released before Christmas.

Other potential vaccines in phase three trials have been developed by biotech company Novavax and Russia announced on Wednesday that early data for its Sputnik V vaccine suggest it is 92% effective.

How promising are the results from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine?

They findings are interim, and studies will continue, but it has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised so far.

The analysis was carried out after 94 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were found among those taking part in the trial.

The jab is known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, which uses the virus's genetic code rather than any part of the virus itself, and is injected into the body where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens.

The Pfizer jab has been tested on volunteers in six countries (stock image)
(Image: BIONTECH SE/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

When can we expect results from the Oxford vaccine?

More than 20,000 volunteers are participating in trials for the Oxford vaccine, in countries including the UK, South Africa, Brazil and Kenya.

Professor Andrew Pollard, the head of Oxford's vaccine trial team, said he is optimistic that data on its safety and efficacy will be available by the end of the year.

The Oxford vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, uses a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) which causes infections in chimpanzees.

A scientist at the Oxford Vaccine Group's facility
(Image: REUTERS)

What other trials are ongoing in the UK?

Another jab is being developed by Imperial College London.

It is in phase one of clinical testing, where doses are given to a small group of people to determine whether it is safe and to learn more about the immune response.

Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading Imperial's vaccine effort, said data on its efficacy will be available in the middle of next year.

Pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have also teamed up with the hope of making a vaccine available by the middle of next year.

The Sanofi/GSK candidate is in the phase two stage, where the vaccine is given to hundreds of people so scientists can learn more about its safety and correct dosage, and phase three is planned by the end of the year.

The Moderna vaccine is 95% effective
(Image: REUTERS)

What potential vaccines does the UK have access to?

The UK has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the first agreement the firms signed with any government.

Downing Street has said the UK will have procured 10 million doses to be distributed by the end of this year.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said an "initial agreement" had been reached for 5 million doses of Moderna but warned that the data was "limited" and the firm's production operation is "not yet at scale."

It's thought each person needs two doses of the vaccine, so it would be enough to vaccinate 2.5 million people.

Each person needs two doses of Moderna
(Image: Copyright : BioNtech)

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One of the first volunteers to receive the Moderna jab said he suffered no side effects except a ‘slightly sore arm’ the next morning.

Neal Browning, from Washington, US, was the second ever person to receive the jab.

In August, the Government announced the UK has secured access to six Covid-19 vaccine candidates in development, representing 340 million doses.

The deals cover four types of vaccine – adenoviral, mRNA, inactivated whole virus, and protein adjuvant.

Adenoviral vaccines are weakened versions of adenoviruses, while mRNA candidates use the virus's genetic code, as with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

Inactivated whole virus vaccines contain whole bacteria or viruses which have been killed, while protein adjuvant jabs are those where an adjuvant is added to enhance the immune response.

A volunteer receives a vaccine in Turkey
(Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

When could a vaccine become available in the UK?

A vaccine usually takes years, often decades, to develop, but scientists working on potential coronavirus jabs are hoping to achieve the same huge amount of work in a few months.

Neither the Moderna nor the Pfizer vaccine have passed final regulator approval – but they have different timetables.

The Pfizer vaccine, if approved by regulators, will be rolled out sooner but the government still hasn't promised a launch date.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he "hoped" the NHS will "be able to start distributing to those who need it, perhaps even before Christmas."

But Mr Hancock warned the “vast bulk” of any rollout of the Pfizer jab would only be in the new year.

Neal Browning was the second person to have been injected with the Moderna vaccine
(Image: ITV)

How long will the vaccine approval process take?

The UK's medicines regulator could approve the Pfizer or Oxford jabs within days of a licence application being submitted, according to Mr Hancock.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been carrying out a rolling review of data from both Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

Mr Hancock said: "So that means that the regulator will be able to make a judgment on whether this is clinically safe, and not just take the company's word for it, but do that within a matter of days from a formal licence application."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock
(Image: PA)

How will it be rolled out?

It is hoped that the first phase of the vaccination programme in the UK will protect 99% of those at risk of death from Covid-19, before moving on to younger age groups.

Mr Hancock said the military and NHS staff were on standby to roll out a vaccine across the UK from the start of December, and will work "seven days a week" to do so.

It will be delivered through care homes, GPs and pharmacists, as well as "go-to" vaccination centres set up in venues such as sports halls.

Mr Hancock said the UK will be among the first countries in the world able to do this.

Are there any logistical issues?

Mr Hancock said Oxford's vaccine was easier to deploy than Pfizer's, which needs to be kept at a temperature of minus 70C and is being manufactured in Belgium.

He said that from the moment the Pfizer vaccine leaves the factory in Belgium it can only be taken out of minus 70C four times before it is injected into a patient's arm.

While it will be a "mammoth logistical operation", Mr Hancock said he had "confidence" it can be delivered.

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