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Vaccines are coming but not before Christmas, warns Sage scientist



One of Britain’s leading scientific ­advisers has presented good news and bad news to the country, saying that more than one Covid vaccine will probably soon be available, but that they will not be in time for Christmas.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, who is a member of the Sage scientific advisory group and also a director of the Wellcome Trust, said more than one vaccine will be available in the UK before the end of March. A vaccine, coupled with “really good treatments”, will change the fundamental dynamics of the pandemic, he said.

But he also warned that before then Britain faces a difficult Christmas, with many families unable to visit each other.

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He told Sky’s News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “The UK is in an [extraordinarily] strong position. Britain has got a portfolio of vaccines through which more than one, I’m sure, will come through in the first quarter of next year.”

A vaccine could be ready in the New Year, scientists say (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

‘Christmas will be tough’

Sir Jeremy added he did not believe the whole population should be vaccinated straight away. “I think it’s important to target those who are more vulnerable, and of course, healthcare workers on the front line.”

He also said treatments may come sooner than vaccines, and that good testing and public health measures could turn the pandemic around “in the next six months, maybe 12 months at a global scale”.

But he also warned that things would not return to normal before Christmas.

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Christmas ‘won’t be the usual celebration this year’ but vaccines are coming in early 2021, Sage expert says

He said: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.

“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year. We are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

As cases soar, a glimmer of hope

The Government said as of 9am on Sunday there had been a further 16,982 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total to 722,409.

A further 67 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, as of Sunday, according to official data. This brings the UK total to 43,646.

A normal Christmas is unlikely, say scientists as cases keep rising (Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP)

There was more good vaccine news, however, with Pfizer releasing footage of thousands of doses of vaccine being manufactured at its plant in Puurs, Belgium.

The stockpiled vials will be dispatched worldwide after clinical trials are deemed successful and regulators give the green light. An estimated 40 million doses are bound for the UK, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.

Over the weekend, the Government changed the law to enable pharmacists, dentists, midwives and paramedics to administer the jabs.