The possible approval of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine this month could mean that all care home residents will be vaccinated by February, a doctors’ leader has said.
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of The Royall College of GPs, told Radio 4’s Today programme that the second vaccine would speed up the vaccination programme.
“At the moment we are dealing with this Pfizer vaccine, which is difficult,” Professor Marshall said.
“On the assumption that we are going to get approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine – which is much more familiar because it is much more like the flu vaccination – we will be able to roll-out at a much faster pace.
“Certainly over the next few weeks and months we expect all care homes to be covered.”
It has been reported that the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine could be approved by the medicines regulator, the MHRA, as soon as 28 or 29 December.
Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the Health Select Committee, said: “It will make a massive difference as the doses we have of the Pfizer vaccine will keep us going until the end of January and I think we’re not getting another shipment until March.
“So if we could have that Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine ready to go in January, we could keep the roll-out going at its current pace.”
A spokesperson for the MHRA said: “Our rolling review of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is ongoing.
“Our process for approving vaccines is designed to make sure that any COVID-19 vaccine authorised meets the expected high standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
“Any vaccine must undergo robust clinical trials in line with international standards, with oversight provided by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and no vaccine would be authorised for supply in the UK unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.”