UK to distribute COVID-19 vaccine for 30 million Britons by September

UK to distribute COVID-19 vaccine for 30 million Britons by September
image source

The UK plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccine for 30 million Britons by September this year, according to the British government.

Officials could provide 30 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as early as September.

On Sunday, the government announced that the UK would be the first country in the world to have access to a vaccine the Oxford University is developing. This vaccine will be produced and distributed should its clinical trials show successful results. The trials started human trials on April 24.

The Oxford University said it signed a licensing agreement with AstraZeneca, which would manage the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine globally. AstraZeneca said that in July, researchers at the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group would determine whether their vaccine was effective in stopping coronavirus infections.

According to experts, it would take between 12 to 18 months to develop a safe vaccine that can be distributed the market.

ADVERTISEMENT

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said that the government allocates £65.5 million ($79 million) in funding for vaccine development. The British government also said that AstraZeneca aims to produce up to 30 million doses of the vaccine available for people in the UK by September.

Equitable access

Meanwhile, some countries are concerned that research on coronavirus vaccines and treatments could become a subject of competition or race.

“Some countries see it as an arms race,” said Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, during an interview with CNBC last week. He added that the international community should have access to information on COVID-19 vaccines.

Moreover, an official from Germany’s health authority considered vaccine development as an international effort. The official stressed no country should get special access to an inoculation.

Equal access to any vaccine, according to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, was “non-negotiable.”

The statement came after Paul Hudson, CEO of French pharma firm Sanofi, told Bloomberg the US held the most significant right to pre-order its potential vaccine because the country was “invested in taking the risk.”

Logistical issues

However, experts warned that logistical issues may still arise even if an effective vaccine becomes available.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot made an announcement on Sunday about the company’s effort to set parallel supply agreements with other countries and multilateral organizations “to ensure fair and equitable access around the world.”

Meanwhile, a representative of the company told CNBC that AstraZeneca was collaborating with several partners to maintain a supply chain “in record time.” This would make the distribution of the vaccine globally at no profit throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will make every effort we can to deliver these doses while at the same time working on parallel supply chains to supply the rest of the world,” he said.

The third phase of clinical trials of Oxford’s vaccine will start in the UK at the end of May. The results may unfold by late summer. However, AstraZeneca’s spokesman stressed that they could not guarantee the success of a vaccine.

“We are hopeful that it will be safe and effective, but we need to wait for the results of the clinical trial program,” he said.

“Development of a vaccine can take many years and we are trying to do this in less than nine months. This is a massive and complex effort to develop the vaccine at speed and scale production to hundreds of millions of doses in record time.”

ADVERTISEMENT