The UK government has signed up for 90 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine - but when will it become available?

Monday, 20th July 2020, 10:18 am
Updated Monday, 20th July 2020, 10:19 am
Millions of people in the UK could eventually be vaccinated against coronavirus as the government has signed deals for 90 million doses (Photo: Shutterstock)

Millions of people in the UK could eventually be vaccinated against coronavirus as the government has signed deals for 90 million doses.

The government has said that, alongside the 90 million doses, more are “in the pipeline as part of its strategy to build a portfolio of promising new vaccines to protect the UK from Covid-19.” However, it will be some time before anyone receives a vaccine, outside of testing trials.

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The vaccines are being researched by an alliance between the pharmaceutical companies BioNtech and Pfizer, alongside the firm Valneva.

Treatments which contain Covid-19-neutralising antibodies have been secured from firm AstraZeneca, in order to protect those who cannot receive vaccines, such as people with a weakened immune system.

Which vaccines has the UK secured?

The UK government has now secured access to vaccines that use three different approaches.

These are:

30 million doses of the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine - this injects part of the coronavirus' genetic code60 million doses of the Valneva - this uses an inactive version of the coronavirus100m doses of the Oxford vaccine - which is made from a genetically engineered virus

When could vaccinations be available and who will be prioritised?

A vaccine could possibly be proven effective by the end of 2020. However, vaccination on a wide scale is still not expected until 2021.

However, if an effective vaccine is developed, then those at highest risk of Covid-19, alongside health and social care workers, will be prioritised first.

Volunteers for vaccination studies

The Government has also launched the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry, which will allow people in the UK to volunteer for future vaccine studies.

In order to enable large-scale vaccine studies to take place across the UK, the current aim is to get 500,000 people signed up by October 2020.

Kate Bingham, the chair of the government's Vaccine Taskforce, said, "The fact that we have so many promising candidates already shows the unprecedented pace at which we are moving.

"But I urge against being complacent or over optimistic. The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms."