British PM Boris Johnson dampens hopes of Covid-19 vaccine this year
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday dampened prospects of an effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year, as initial results of a widely-followed human trial at the University of Oxford were due to be released later in the day.
On a visit to Kent, Johnson, who recovered after being severely affected by the virus earlier this year, said: “I wish I could say that I was 100% confident that we will get a vaccine for Covid-19 (this year). As you know, there are about 100 different scientific ventures out in the field now”.
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“The UK has got some world-leading scientists engaged in this. There’s the Oxford programme where we have secured 100m doses already. What we are saying today is we’re investing also in a couple of potential vaccines, one French, one German – 90 million doses that we’re going to be investing in”.
However, he went on to say in a pooled media interaction: “Obviously I’m hopeful. I’ve got my fingers crossed. But to say that I’m 100% confident that we’ll get a vaccine this year, or indeed next year, that is, alas, an exaggeration. We are not there yet”.
“If you talk to the scientists, they think that the sheer weight of international effort is going to produce something. They are pretty confident that we’ll get some sorts of treatments, some sorts of vaccines, that really make a difference”.
“But right now can I tell you that I’m 100% confident? No. That’s why we’ve got to continue with our current approach, maintaining social distancing measures ... washing hands ... wearing face masks in confined spaces like on public transport or in shops”.
“And then we will continue to drive the virus down by our own collective action. It may be that the vaccine is going to come riding over the hill like the cavalry. But we just can’t count on it right now”, he added.
Johnson’s comments came soon after Business secretary Alok Sharma announced new deals to secure early access to three promising Covid-19 vaccine candidates. The Johnson government has allocated millions of pounds for mass-production of vaccines if trials are successful.
The three vaccine classes that the Boris Johnson government has secured through partnerships are: adenoviral vaccines (University of Oxford/AstraZeneca); mRNA vaccines (BioNTech/Pfizer, Imperial College London) and the inactivated whole virus vaccines (Valneva).