Coronavirus vaccine unlikely to be available in Britain before spring - adviser

LONDON (Reuters) - It is unlikely a coronavirus vaccine will be in widespread use in Britain before next spring, the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said on Monday as speculation around the government’s roll-out plan increases.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Downing Street, in London, Britain October 7, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

There is no proven vaccine against the coronavirus, and the development of one is seen as key to containing an outbreak that has resurged across Britain and elsewhere in recent weeks.

“(It’s) unlikely we’ll have a vaccine for any sort of widespread use in the community, before at least spring next year,” Vallance told lawmakers.

Globally, 44 coronavirus vaccine candidates are in clinical trials, with another 154 in development, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

The Sunday Times had reported that Britain’s health service was preparing for a roll-out of jabs soon after Christmas, because late stage trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were going well, citing a briefing by the deputy chief medical officer to lawmakers.

But Vallance said it was important not to get hopes up too early on the delivery of vaccines during a difficult winter.

“I do think that we should not over-promise. I think it’s very important that we give a realistic picture of where things are,” Vallance said, noting that vaccines usually took a decade to produce.

Vallance said it was good news that a number of vaccine candidates had been shown in early-stage trials to create an immune response and created neutralising antibodies.

“But that’s a necessary step in vaccine production. It’s not the answer. The answer comes from the Phase III (late stage) clinical trials,” he said.

“We will know over the next few months whether we have any vaccines that really do protect.”

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; writing by Alistair Smout; editing by William James and Mark Potter