Millions of people have been infected by the deadly coronavirus since the outbreak started in January 2020. More than 1.3 million people have lost their lives to the virus, with thousands still suffering from what is now being called ”long covid”. With restrictions imposed on nations across the globe, the development of a vaccine is considered essential to halt the spread of the deadly virus. Express.co.uk has all the details about what this vaccine could mean for you.
There are currently dozens of vaccines being developed across the world.
In the UK we have the University of Oxford vaccine, which works by taking a lesser virus and mutating it so it is no longer harmful
Others, like the Modern vaccine in the USA or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, use synthetic DNA which helps the body created proteins to fight the coronavirus.
It’s thought the first vaccine to be approved could be available by the end of this year. But not everyone seems to trust in the science, with just 58 percent of Americans say they’d sign up for the jab in a Gallup poll taken in November.
Is the coronavirus vaccine safe?
Regulators will take the safety of any new coronavirus vaccine “very seriously” and be rigorous looking at the data, a former government chief scientific adviser has said.
Professor Sir Mark Walport said he had “complete confidence” in the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) who he says will look at the data in a “rigorous fashion”.
He said: “They are very clear what their job is, they are independent of the Government, they will look at the data in a rigorous fashion.
“The safety of the vaccine is very important, they will take it very seriously because we want a vaccine that works but we want one that is safe.”
Sir Mark also said there was “no reason” to expect that a new coronavirus vaccine would have long-term side effects, adding: “If there are going to be side effects there are the immediate ones.”
And he’s not the only one confident with the science. Professor Calum Semple, of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he had total confidence in the research being done on the vaccine.
Asked if he had felt completely safe to have a jab on BBC Breakfast, he said: “Absolutely yes and I have confidence in the science and the people who are doing this.”
Most vaccine side effects appear within 60 days of receiving the jab, according to Dr Grace Lee, a professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
She said: “We’re going to have to accept that there are going to be risks — nothing we do in this world is risk-free.
“We could wait six months, a year or two years to have sufficient data, but should we withhold the vaccine from the population for two years because we want perfect data?
“Of course, we want perfect data, but given where we are in the pandemic right now, we have to find that balance.”
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In a White House Task Force briefing, Dr Anthony Fauci sought to quash concerns about the speed at which the vaccine was created.
He said: “The process of the speed did not compromise at all safety nor did it compromise scientific integrity.
“It was a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines which allow us to do things in months that took us years before.”
Professor Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, added the process was able to be shortened by efficiencies that have not been seen before.
She added: “The safety regulatory process is still there but the time frame between things, they’ve tried to shorten, just in terms of it’s not sitting in a pile of things to be approved.”
How will they make sure the covid vaccine is safe?
All coronavirus vaccines will go through a rigorous testing process to ensure they work properly, but are also safe for humans.
To be rolled out to the public, a vaccine will have to go through clinical trials.
The first round of these trials sees a small group of volunteers given the vaccine to prove it has no adverse side effects.
The second stage sees a larger group given the jab, in which a larger sample size is chosen to see how effective the vaccine is.
Finally, the vaccine will be tested on a larger sample again – and only when it has passed all three levels will it be approved by regulatory bodies and given to the general public.
Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says such large trials are used as they are more likely to pick up on any serious safety issues.
He said: “The issue you want to think about is size, because it tells you how rare of an event you can detect.”
Many of these vaccines have now completed these three stages. For example, Pfizer and BioNTech have completed their Phase 3 trial and announced their vaccine was 95 percent effective.
While Moderna said early results of its Phase 3 trial show the experimental vaccine is 94.5 percent effective.
So all we need now is for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to analyse the vaccines.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said NHS could start immunising people against Covid-19 next month, if the medicines regulator approves a vaccine in time.
Speaking in Downing Street, he said: “I’ve asked the NHS to be ready to deploy at the speed at which the vaccine can be produced.
“What I can say about timing is that if, and it still is an if, if the regulator approves a vaccine, we will be ready to start the vaccination next month, with the bulk of the rollout in the new year.”