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Last Updated : Oct 18, 2020 04:00 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

COVID-19 vaccine 'not light years away', may be available by December: England's key health official

The vaccine, being developed at Oxford University with AstraZeneca, could be made available for high-priority groups in time for the New Year.

Representative image
Representative image

A coronavirus vaccine might not be "light years" away and, in fact, may even become available by December this year in the United Kingdom (UK), England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said, reports suggest.

According to a report by The Sunday Times, Van-Tam said that the National Health Service (NHS) is preparing to introduce a coronavirus vaccine soon after Christmas.

"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," Van-Tam reportedly told Members of Parliament (MPs).


According to a report by Business Insider, the vaccine, being developed at Oxford University with AstraZeneca, could be made available for high-priority groups in time for the New Year.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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An MP who attended the briefing said that Van-Tam was "very bullish about the third stage AstraZeneca results, which he expects between the end of this month and the end of next".

According to the reports, if developed, the government plans on offering the vaccine initially to key workers, the elderly and the vulnerable. Reports also said that thousands of NHS volunteers will receive training in vaccination before the end of 2020.
First Published on Oct 18, 2020 04:00 pm