A COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford, in collaboration with British drugmaker AstraZeneca, may be rolled out in Britain for some people before Christmas. However, an early 2021 launch is more likely, said Kate Bingham, the chair of the UK government's vaccine taskforce.
Speaking to BBC television, Bingham said, "if the first two vaccines, or either of them, show that they are both safe and effective, I think there is a possibility that vaccine rollout will start this side of Christmas, but otherwise I think it's more realistic to expect it to be early next year."
She also wrote in the medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday that the first phase III efficacy data from the leading vaccine candidates are due by "the end of 2020" and is subject to "accruing sufficient rates of infection within the clinical trial cohorts to show the vaccines' efficacy."
Bingham added that the primary objective is to "show that the vaccine can protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection and reduce symptom burden."
The phase-III trials of Oxford University-AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine candidate are currently underway in the UK.
AstraZeneca had said on Monday that the inoculation had promoted "encouraging" immune response in both young and old adults.
Bingham mentioned in the journal that the UK is committed to ensuring that everyone at risk of COVID-19, anywhere in the world, has access to a safe and effective vaccine.
Meanwhile, expressing optimism over the prospect of coming out with a coronavirus vaccine in 2020, American pharma giant Pfizer's chief executive Albert Bourla said that "we have reached the last mile here."
The company could supply around 40 million doses in the US in 2020 if human clinical trials progress as expected and regulators approve a vaccine.
Bourla added that Pfizer still had not reached key benchmarks in reviewing vaccine efficacy, stating that the company may file for emergency use authorisation (EUA) for its coronavirus vaccine in the third week of November, roughly in keeping with earlier timeframes.