The prospect of a vaccine by Christmas dominates the front pages

The prospect of a vaccine by Christmas dominates the front pages

The Government’s each way bet on which will be available first

A month ago I wrote here of the experiences of a friend of mine who had just left hospital after being struck down with Covid19 and concluded that the only way this crisis would come to an end was when a vaccine or palliative was widely available.

Her story was about the sheer awfulness of gasping for breath and then the incredible joy after arriving in hospital and getting oxygen. The totality of the pain, the physical discomfort when organs aren’t functioning properly and the worry that you might not make it – that these could be your last hours made worse without loved ones being present.

Thoughts like these are what’s dominated all our lives for months and why someone like me in a very high risk group has just been too scared to do normal things. Well the latest news about the Oxford vaccine and the government’s decision to place orders for that and other possible alternatives is huge news which is reflected on the front pages this morning. The Times reports the Oxford development like this:

A coronavirus vaccine could be available this year, Oxford University researchers said yesterday after a “milestone” clinical trial produced encouraging results. The vaccine stimulated “robust immune responses” and there were no serious side-effects in a phase-one trial involving about 1,100 healthy volunteers. The subjects displayed sufficient levels of neutralising antibodies, thought to be critical in protecting against viral infection, to give researchers grounds for optimism. A second important aspect of the immune system, T-cells, were also mobilised, according to a study in The Lancet.

The government’s decision even before the trials are complete to commit to buying tens of millions doses of this and other possible vaccines could prove to be the most important political decision of the Johnson administration. For getting this to the people as fast as possible is going to be crucial.

Mike Smithson

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