Vaccine priority given to key workers and over fifties

A coronavirus vaccine is not yet available, however when it is frontline key workers in the health and social care sectors and those with heart and kidney disease, and the over 50s will be given priority, the health secretary has announced. He said he will priorotise those people for vaccinations who are at higher risk of getting COVID-19.

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Human trials began on a second potential vaccine being developed at Imperial College London this week, while production has already started on another possible inoculation at Oxford with the aim of building up stockpiles to be ready for deployment if it is approved for use in the autumn. He said "AstraZeneca has struck a deal for the manufacture of the Oxford vaccine. They’re starting manufacturing now, even ahead of approval, so we can build up a stockpile and be ready should it be clinically approved.”

Speaking at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing, Matt Hancock said his approach to vaccines was ”to throw everything at it as fast as we can” in order to have inoculations ready to use as soon as they are deemed safe. 

 

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Millions will have to wait their turn as demand for protection from Covid-19 is high. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued interim advice that jabs should go first to frontline health and social care workers and those at increased risk of serious disease and death because of age and underlying health factors. Mr Hancock said that work was under way to see whether black, Asian and minority ethnic people should be added to the list because of research showing that they make up a disproportionate share of cases and deaths. 

 

The health secretary said: "As we learn more about the virus we will continue to take into account which groups may be particularly vulnerable, including, for example, those from ethnic minority backgrounds so that we can protect the most at risk first, should a vaccine become available, and get this country back on our feet as soon as we possibly can." “In the long run, the best way to defeat this virus is of course the discovery of a vaccine. And since the start we’ve been supporting the most promising projects."

In deciding who comes first in the queue for the vaccine, Matt Hancock said ministers will be “guided by the clinical science, prioritising those in most need”.