England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said he expects the UK to have three or four Covid-19 vaccines by next summer.
Talking to the Commons Health and Science Committee, he said he expects to have a “portfolio” of several vaccines by the middle of 2021, adding that the rollout process would still proceed “carefully.”
Professor Whitty said, “The aim would be to roll out this vaccine and any others that get a licence and are effective and safe.
“We expect, probably by the middle of the year, to have a portfolio of three or four vaccines which we can actually use.”
What other vaccines are in the works?
The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was the first one to get approved in the UK, with the first person receiving the injection on Wednesday 9 December 2020. Margaret Keenan, aged 90, was issued the first vaccine at the University Hospital in Coventry.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as each vaccine requires two doses.
The UK has also ordered 100 million doses of a vaccine which is being developed by the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, which has reached the advanced stage of testing, and will be reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) once it has all the data.
A third promising vaccine - the Moderna vaccine - isn’t expected to become available in the UK until spring. The UK has ordered seven million doses of it.
Other vaccines in the works, but not yet in the advanced stages of testing, include the Novavax vaccine, the Valneva vaccine, the GSK/Sanofi Pasteur vaccine, and the Janssen vaccine.
When will I get the vaccine?
The vaccine will be distributed to people using a priority list that has been devised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Some of the highest priority people include residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, people aged 80 years and over, and frontline health and social care workers.
Chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, has said that the majority of people over 80 will be waiting until 2021 to receive the vaccine.
Talking to the Press Association, Hopson said, “I don’t think people should expect anything over the next few days because the reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March.
“And the one thing that we don’t want people to get anxious about or concerned about is ‘Where’s my letter?’ in December.
“People really shouldn’t worry if they’re over 80 and they haven’t had a letter.
“I’m sure there will be communications over the next few weeks that will tell people how quickly we are getting through the over 80s, and there will be plenty of communications to say, at the right point, if you haven’t had a letter than you should talk to your GP, but we are many weeks away from that.”
Hopson emphasised that those who haven’t heard anything about receiving the vaccine should “hang fire” and not become concerned.
“We haven’t forgotten you, and we’ll certainly tell you at the point at which you need to start worrying if you haven’t been contacted, but that will be many, many weeks away,” he said.