Coronavirus vaccinations have started in care homes in the UK, Matt Hancock confirmed today.
Care home residents are top of the priority list for the vaccines because they’re so at risk from Covid-19, but logistical problems meant the jabs couldn’t taken out into homes at the start of the roll-out.
The Health Secretary said this afternoon that he was ‘delighted’ that this was now possible and is being done in the UK.
No details have yet been released about where the care homes are or how many residents have been vaccinated.
It comes as Sir John Bell, an Oxford University medicine professor and adviser to government ministers, said today that the jab made by Oxford and AstraZeneca could be approved ‘shortly after’ Christmas.
Sir John said he expects the data from the ongoing clinical studies ‘looks better than ever’ and that the vaccine would get a green light from Britain’s regulators.
If it is approved, the jab – which can, helpfully, be stored in a normal fridge – could get start getting rolled out just days later.
More than half a million people in the UK have already been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to PM Boris Johnson, and the programme is fast gaining speed on the run-in to the New Year.
There are already more than four million doses of Oxford’s vaccine on standby so the vaccination programme could explode into life if it gets the go-ahead.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this afternoon he was ‘delighted’ that vaccines are now being rolled out to care homes in the UK
Professor Sir John Bell, who advises the Government on the virus, said he was still sure the UK would be able to return to normal by the sprin
The regulator, the MHRA, is thought to be deliberating over whether to give the jab to people in two doses, as was originally intended, or to give them 1.5 after a small part of the trial found it appeared to work better this way.
AstraZeneca bosses say they think either dosing option – the difference is 62 per cent effective or 90 per cent – is good enough to use and would reduce deaths.
Sir John told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that he expects MHRA approval ‘pretty shortly’.
He said: ‘They got data quite a long time ago but that was the first set of data. They receive multiple sets of data.
‘So we are getting to be about prime time now, I would expect some news pretty shortly. I doubt we’ll make Christmas now, but just after Christmas I would expect.
‘I have no concerns whatsoever that the data looks better than ever.’