With new lockdown systems in place across the UK, the question on everybody’s minds is when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available. All over the world, teams of researchers are working around the clock to develop a vaccination. When will a vaccine be ready? Will it be available to everybody?
Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?
Currently, no vaccines have been proven to prevent coronavirus or protect people from the resulting COVID-19 disease.
However, there are hundreds of potential vaccines in development around the world. Several of these have already entered a key stage of testing: clinical trials. This involves giving the vaccine to a small group of people at first, in order to monitor its effects. If it provokes an immune response, it will move onto the next stage of trials involving larger groups of people.
How close are we to a coronavirus vaccine?
One of the most promising trials is underway at the University of Oxford. Back in September, researchers halted the trial after one of the participants fell ill. This is fairly common in vaccine trials, and the study quickly resumed.
According to the Guardian’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, the Oxford vaccine “triggers a strong immune response in the human body.” It’s currently in Phase 3 of the testing process, the final stage before approval. So far, more than 30,000 people have taken part in testing in the UK, USA, Brazil, and South Africa.
What are we waiting for?
Despite these promising trials, we shouldn’t expect a vaccine for everybody any time soon. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently stated that it widespread vaccinations against coronavirus are unlikely before mid-2021.
A potential COVID-19 vaccine would almost certainly be in very limited supply. So, naturally, discussion is turning to questions of who will be eligible for any potential COVID-19 vaccine. The UK government has already placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine, as well as millions of doses of five other vaccines. Of course, none of these vaccinations have yet proven successful.
Presumably, the priority will be to reduce deaths and protect the NHS. Therefore, we might assume that healthcare workers, over 65s, and the extremely vulnerable will be top of the list for any potential COVID-19 vaccine.
In the Meantime…
Until a COVID-19 vaccine is available and safe for widespread use, it seems that the current restrictions are here to stay.
You can check the current coronavirus restrictions in your area on the government website.
In general, everyone should wash their hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. You should clean your hands with hand gel if soap is not available. Remember to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces (unless you have an exemption) and stay 2 metres apart from people who are not in your household or support bubble.
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