Hopes of vaccine by Christmas as doses seen rolling off production line

‘Hundreds of thousands’ of doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine have already been manufactured, it’s been revealed. 

The Pfizer jab is being stock-piled en masse at the drug giant’s plant in Puurs, Belgium and could be put in for approval in the US in November, The Mail on Sunday reports. 

It comes as the UK’s deputy chief medical officer said a different potential vaccine – produced by Oxford University and Astra Zeneca – could enter the third stage of clinical trials in December and be rolled out just after Christmas. 

In news that will bring some hope to the millions around the world suffering from the impact of the pandemic, the two leading potential vaccines have apparently taken big steps forward recently. 

Pfizer’s UK boss Ben Osborn told the Mail on Sunday: ‘It was great to see the first vial coming off the manufacturing line. 

‘It just brought a tremendous smile to my face to see all of this work actually result in a product.’ 

Doses of this vaccine are being manufactured in anticipation of clinical trials being successful and regulators deeming it safe and effective. 

Up to 100 million doses could be made available this year, of which 40 million will end up in the UK. The company is already planning to manufacture 1.3 billion jabs in 2021, according to the Mail on Sunday. 

The jab is currently being tested on 44,000 people. Everyone is expected to need at least two doses. 

Every stage of the vaccine’s development has been closely followed around the world. Although working at a far faster speed than normal, scientists have already missed the most ambitious deadlines set earlier in the pandemic when it was hoped a vaccine could be approved by the autumn. 

It’s believed emergency approval for the Pfizer vaccine will be sought in the US in November. Meanwhile hundreds of NHS staff are set to be trained up to deliver vaccine doses to ensure it can be rolled out to the most vulnerable groups as quickly as possible. 

The Sunday Times reports that, in a meeting with MPs, Professor Van-Tam said stage three trials of the Oxford vaccine could take place in December.

Boris Johnson and his scientific advisors this week played down the chance of the vaccine being ready imminently but it is hoped behind-the-scenes, things are looking more positive. 

According to the Sunday Times, Professor Van Tam said: ‘We aren’t light years away from it. It isn’t a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could deploy a vaccine soon after Christmas. That would have a significant impact on hospital admissions and deaths.’ 

Speaking earlier on the Ridge on Sunday programme on Sky News, Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), was less optimistic. 

He said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ but a vaccine and more effective treatments are still three to six months away and highly unlikely to be ready by Christmas. 

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News – Hopes of vaccine by Christmas as doses seen rolling off production line