Vaccine Approval

Could normality be just around the corner?

02/12/20

Diane Hall

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Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the various vaccines in development that may potentially win the fight against Covid-19. In that article, I detailed a few different companies that were striving to hone their particular solution and attain approval from the relevant medical and scientific bodies.


Today, as we leave the second (relative) national lockdown behind, one company, Pfizer, has pushed forward with their vaccine and won the regulator’s approval to manufacture it within the UK.


In response, following the vaccine’s 95% success rate, our government has placed an initial order for 10 million doses. Given that, to attain this 95% rate of success, two doses are needed, this equates to 5 million people receiving the solution. Another 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be ready before Easter.


The government has also ordered 100 million doses of Oxford University’s vaccine, with a further 5 million doses of Moderna’s solution on order too (produced in the US); the latter won’t arrive until Spring. The United Kingdom houses more than 67 million people—looking at the numbers, even if each vaccine needs a double dose, there should be enough for everyone in the country.


Some of us will be able to enjoy a normal life again in a matter of weeks…isn’t that great news? The programme is due to roll out in days, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with the first 800,000 vaccines awaiting their recipients.


One of the greatest assets of the Pfizer vaccine is that it’s shown the same effectiveness in trials for people of all ages, from the very young to the over 65s.


Pfizer et al’s results have caused the government to positively jump forward with their plans. They believe that we will all be vaccinated and enjoying a normal life by Easter 2021—or maybe next summer at a push. It’s been clear for many months now, that the virus was not going to wither away and die out on its own. Though a portion of the population do not plan to take up the offer of a vaccine, for reasons of their own, it seems we have little choice if we want to be able to mix freely in society once again, and enjoy the leisure activities, pastimes and hobbies that we used to enjoy before the virus came to be.


The question is: who gets vaccinated first? Who will get their lives back before the rest of us?


It has already been decided that frontline/key NHS workers will be at the front of the vaccination queue, which is fine—this makes logical sense when they’re continuously treating people with the virus first-hand. The elderly and the vulnerable should probably be next in line, along with other key workers; however, the cynic in me thinks that some of these will be nudged out of the way to allow MPs and their families (and their pals, and their domestic staff) to have the vaccine early on instead. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the dig.


One of the biggest challenges the vaccine professionals will face is keeping the solution at a constant temperature of -70°C until they’re ready to be injected. This is unlikely to represent a problem in hospitals, which already have suitable fridges for this purpose, but it could become a logistical and practical nightmare if the vaccines are required in other places, such as care homes and the individual residences of the disabled and immobile, for example.


It doesn’t sit right with me to be too negative about this latest development in the story of coronavirus. Vaccines can take years and years to create, tweak, test and approve. The commitment of scientists worldwide to produce something that will stop this awful virus in its tracks has seen them working around the clock, and for that they should be commended. And I’m sure that even the most ardent rebel or conspiracy theorist would not want to live as we all have during 2020 for the entire decade and possibly beyond.


If accepting the virus means we can resurrect some semblance of our previous lives, I, for one, am all for it.

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