The UK has vaccinated more than 15 million people to date and has offered a vaccine to all within the top four priority groups. The Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are currently the only vaccines being administered in the UK. The Moderna vaccine has also been approved, however, and is expected to start being rolled out in the Spring.
Professor Martin Michaelis, Virologist and Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Kent, told Express.co.uk the UK has ordered more than enough to vaccinate the entire population with the vaccines that have been approved for use.
Professor Michaelis said: “The vaccine situation is now developing so rapidly that it becomes difficult to keep up-to-date.
“As far as I am aware, ten vaccines have been approved in at least one country so far.
“Notably, the UK is in a very good position, having ordered in total 157 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.
“This is sufficient for vaccinating 78.5 million people and, thus, more than we need to give everyone the required two vaccinations. Many more vaccines are in late stage development.”
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The vaccine could be the UK’s fourth vaccine to be approved for use, with approval possible within a matter of weeks.
Professor Michaelis said: “The most important ones to watch out for in the UK are those for which the UK has already ordered doses.
“This includes the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, which uses an adenovirus vector system similar to that used in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and the Novavax vaccine, which uses a virus protein to induce an immune response.
“The Janssen vaccine is remarkable, because it only requires a single dose. However, it may provide less protection than the other vaccines.”
What will happen to vaccines in the future?
As the UK continues with its vaccine programme at an impressive pace, there is consideration of how the UK can help other countries rollout vaccines too.
Professor Michaelis added: “Given that we will have more vaccine doses than needed to cover the UK, it is time to look beyond this initial vaccination campaign.
“Discussions about updated vaccines that cover new emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have started.
“Moreover, we will have to appreciate that COVID-19 is a global problem and that we are not going to win the fight in the UK.
“As long as COVID-19 is circulating around the world, there remains a risk of its reintroduction into the UK, including novel variants that are not covered by the existing vaccines.
“Hence, it is in the interest of the UK to consider how surplus doses can be used to enable vaccination campaigns elsewhere.”