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UK to allow emergency use of any effective COVID-19 vaccine

The proposed regulations would allow coronavirus vaccines to receive an emergency approval allowing people to be immunized while the full licensing process is being finished. Typically, vaccines are only used after the licensing review has been completed, a process which can take several months.

August 30, 2020 / 12:16 PM IST
4 | Chinese President Xi Jinping offers to cooperate with India, BRICS countries to develop COVID-19 vaccine: Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 17 offered to cooperate with India and other BRICS nations in the development of vaccines against the coronavirus and called for holding a symposium by the five-member bloc on traditional medicine to explore its role in the COVID-19 prevention and treatment.

4 | Chinese President Xi Jinping offers to cooperate with India, BRICS countries to develop COVID-19 vaccine: Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 17 offered to cooperate with India and other BRICS nations in the development of vaccines against the coronavirus and called for holding a symposium by the five-member bloc on traditional medicine to explore its role in the COVID-19 prevention and treatment.


Britain is preparing to revise its laws to allow the emergency use of any effective coronavirus vaccine before it is fully licensed — but only if the shots meet required safety and quality standards.


In a statement Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government said it was adopting “reinforced safeguards” to allow the country’s medicines regulatory agency to grant temporary authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, provided it meets safety and quality standards.


The proposed regulations would allow coronavirus vaccines to receive an emergency approval allowing people to be immunized while the full licensing process is being finished. Typically, vaccines are only used after the licensing review has been completed, a process which can take several months.


“If we develop effective vaccines, it’s important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible, but only once strict safety standards have been met,” Jonathan Van-Tam, Britain’s deputy chief medical officer, said in a statement.


Britain said the move was “a precautionary measure” and would only be used as a last resort if there was a pressing public health justification.

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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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Officials said they would also be expanding the number of health workers who can administer vaccines as well as clarifying the kind of protection from civil liability for this additional work force.


The government is beginning a three-week consultation period to seek advice from health experts and other stakeholders. It said the measures could be introduced as early as October.


Dr. Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said he was confident all the safety requirements for any potential COVID-19 vaccine would be met under any emergency approval.


“These steps will help to ensure that the UK can benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine should one become available in the near future that is proven to be safe and effective,” Brown said.


Britain has recorded more than 41,500 COVID-19 deaths, the worst toll of any European country and its daily case count has been slowly increasing in recent weeks. New infections have been averaging about 1,000 a day for the last week. At the peak of Britain’s outbreak, it was about 5,000 cases a day, though experts suspect it could have been much higher due to inadequate testing.


The UK has signed multiple deals with pharmaceuticals for COVID-19 vaccines. It expects to receive the first shipments of an experimental vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca this fall, while advanced trials testing the shot’s effectiveness are still under way.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
AP News
first published: Aug 30, 2020 12:16 pm
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