A coronavirus vaccine is likely to be only 50% effective, according to the Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham.
She said any vaccine capable of immunising against the coronavirus would probably be as effective as the flu vaccine.
“Flu vaccines are 50% effective, but they are widely used and have a big impact on reducing the clinical impacts of flu in the population,” she told Sky News.
“We shouldn’t assume it’s going to be better than a flu vaccine, because that’s an equivalent – it’s a mutating … respiratory virus that gets in through the nose and eyes and respiratory tract.”
Bingham added that there is a “slim” chance the coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca could be ready before Christmas.
“So, if everything works, yes, it’s possible we could get a vaccine this year but it’s most likely that it’ll be next year,” she said.
“The ideal is that you get vaccinated and then you’re protected from infection for life.
“Then the other extreme, the other bookend as it were, would be it doesn’t stop infection, but just reduces the severity of symptoms.
“And frankly, I think anything that falls in that spectrum, would be a plus.”
She hopes to get Phase 3 (final) trial data from the Oxford University study, together with the same information from the vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech before the end of the year. Two other vaccines are also in similar stages, said Bingham, adding there haven’t been “any serious safety signals” as yet.
The head of the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine team said face masks and social distancing may be needed until July next year, even if the global trial of a coronavirus vaccine proved successful.
“Even if we had enough vaccine for everyone, it’s unlikely that … the physical distancing rules can be just dropped. We may need masks until July,” Professor Andrew Pollard told the Daily Mail.
“Until we’ve got a high level of immunity in the population so that we can stop the virus so most vulnerable people are immune, there is going to be a risk.”
He said once final stage trials are completed and submitted to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, scrutiny won’t happen “overnight”, but rather weeks.
“They will have to scrutinise the data very carefully – the public would not expect any less.”
Bingham, who is taking part in the Novavax NVX-CoV2373 vaccine trial that is also in Phase 3, urged elderly people and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to come forward to join the vaccine trials in the UK.
At the moment, more than nine in 10 people on the trial (93%) are white, 4% are Asian and less than half a per cent are Black.
Johnson & Johnson announced on Monday it was pausing clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate due to an unexplained illness in a study participant. Eli Lilly and Company said it was also halting its coronavirus antibody trial because of safety concerns.
The economic and social disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic is devastating, said a joint statement from United Nations’ agencies, the International Labour Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Heath Organization
“Tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year,” the agencies said.
“Millions of enterprises face an existential threat. Nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforce are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Informal economy workers are particularly vulnerable because the majority lack social protection and access to quality health care and have lost access to productive assets. Without the means to earn an income during lockdowns, many are unable to feed themselves and their families. For most, no income means no food, or, at best, less food and less nutritious food.
“The pandemic has been affecting the entire food system and has laid bare its fragility. Border closures, trade restrictions and confinement measures have been preventing farmers from accessing markets, including for buying inputs and selling their produce, and agricultural workers from harvesting crops, thus disrupting domestic and international food supply chains and reducing access to healthy, safe and diverse diets. The pandemic has decimated jobs and placed millions of livelihoods at risk. As breadwinners lose jobs, fall ill and die, the food security and nutrition of millions of women and men are under threat, with those in low-income countries, particularly the most marginalised populations, which include small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples, being hardest hit.”
More than 100 officially died from COVID-19 on Tuesday in Ukraine (107), France (117) UK (143), Colombia (156), Mexico (164), South Africa (165), Russia (244), Iran (254), Brazil (354), Argentina (386), India (723) and the US (843). There were 276,069 new global cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 313,286 on Tuesday.