DENTISTS, paramedics and even vets could be giving Brits a new Covid vaccine as early as October, officials have revealed.
Ministers have drawn up radical plans to fast track the rollout of a jab once experts are confident it is safe and effective.
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UK regulators will be able to grant permission for the vaccine to be used before it is officially licensed by the EU.
This would be a departure from the usual process in which the European Medicines Agency must approve new drugs first.
Manufacturers will be immune from civil liability if a vaccine is later found to cause harm after being rushed through.
Medical leaders say a rapid rollout of a vaccine will save lives and is key to bringing the pandemic to an end.
But they insist any fast-tracked therapy will have passed all trials and safety checks.
If we develop effective vaccines, it’s important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible but only once strict safety standards have been met
A wider range of health workers will also be trained to give flu and Covid injections to cope with the surge in demand.
Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, parademics, pharmacists, dentists and vets are among those being considered.
No Covid vaccine has yet completed clinical trials but there are promising candidates, including one from the University of Oxford.
The government has launched a three week consultation on the changes in anticipation of a jab being ready within months.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: “We are making progress in developing Covid-19 vaccines which we hope will be important in saving lives, protecting healthcare workers and returning to normal in future.
“If we develop effective vaccines, it’s important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible but only once strict safety standards have been met.
“The proposals consulted on today suggest ways to improve access and ensure as many people are protected from Covid-19 and flu as possible without sacrificing the absolute need to ensure that any vaccine used is both safe and effective.”
Responsibility for licensing is already due to move from the EMA to the UKs Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) when the Brexit transition period ends.
But the latest proposals seek to boost the MHRA’s powers ahead of that change.
Dr Christian Schneider, from the MHRA, said: “Protecting health and saving lives is at the heart of all our work.
“Throughout the pandemic, the MHRA has prioritised work to ensure rapid approval of robust clinical trials to test a range of medicines and vaccines, whilst maintaining the highest quality and safety standards.
“Whilst the existing licensing system or a new UK one from next year, is the preferred and expected route to supply any vaccine, these new measures will strengthen the regulatory regime and our ability to protect public health.”
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