THE UK is likely to have its first coronavirus vaccine by early next year, according to health secretary Matt Hancock.
Pharmaceutical companies across the world have been working tirelessly to produce a vaccine and Mr Hancock today claimed that the UK has already secured 30 million doses.
Health officials in Australia today announced that it could have its first batch of a vaccine as early as January.
Speaking this morning on LBC Radio Mr Hancock said the UK is ahead of Australia, but dashed hopes that a vaccine would be ready by Christmas.
“We have got 30 million 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 Health Secretary said.
“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.”
Mr Hancock had previously warned that Brits would not be able to hug their loved ones at Christmas unless a vaccine was developed.
His comments today come after the UK recorded almost 3,000 new cases yesterday – numbers not seen since May 22.
Despite this death rates remain low, with some experts claiming the deadly bug is becoming less dangerous.
The health secretary however tempered fears surrounding the rise in infections and insisted that it was under control.
Asked whether or not the government had lost control, Mr Hancock responded and said: “No, but the whole country needs to follow social distancing.
“We certainly see cases where they are not, then we take action.”
He said the rising number of cases was concerning, and added that “nobody wants to see a second wave here”.
“It is concerning because we have seen a rise in cases in France, in Spain, in some other countries across Europe.
“It just reinforces the point that people must follow the social distancing rules, they are so important.”
Social distancing measures remain in place in the UK.
While a two metre distance is recommended, the government states that where this cannot be adhered to, one metre is sufficient.
This has allowed many businesses to reopen including pubs and restaurants.
Mr Hancock appealed to younger people as a rise in cases had been seen in people aged 17 to 21.
He said younger people could still suffer from the virus and pass it on to the vulnerable and the elderly.
On looking after the elderly and vulnerable, the health secretary said the challenge to keep people safe in care homes up and down the country had been significant.
“We made a change to the rule around visitors and allowing visitors about six weeks ago and gave the decision-making to the local area and to the homes themselves.
“Before that we had put in place restrictions on visitors which I was reluctant to do but was necessary when there was a lot of virus about.”
Source: | The sun