A coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out for the over-85s and front-line workers in as little as four weeks, reports suggest.
Plans are being drawn up for the long-awaited jab to be administered by GPs, teams visiting care homes and at-scale delivery centres in early December pending approval, multiple sources told GP publication Pulse.
They said there are two vaccines being prepared for use, including one that requires two shots and needs to be stored at 70C (158F).
NHS England has not confirmed the reports, but Government sources told MailOnline they have heard the NHS is preparing to start delivering the vaccine in December.
A scientist, however, urged caution, telling MailOnline they thought it was still ‘very early’ for a vaccine to clear clinical trials.
It follows reports that the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, in Warwickshire, and NHS Lothian, in Scotland, are both putting plans together to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine to their staff in December.
The Oxford coronavirus vaccine and Pfizer’s jab are both in stage three human trials, with at least one expected to report its results this side of Christmas. The Oxford vaccine is considered a frontrunner in the race to find a cure for Covid-19.
The NHS may start rolling out a vaccine to people aged over 85 and front-line staff in early December, according to reports (stock)
Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out in NHS trust in Scotland in December
A Covid-19 vaccine will be rolled out at an NHS trust in Scotland in mid-December, according to reports.
A secret memo, obtained via Freedom of Information requests, shows NHS Lothian requesting meetings with Edinburgh council and other local authorities about rolling out a vaccine.
The email claims a vaccine could be ready in ‘six weeks’.
It reads: ‘Timescales are uncertain, but we are working to an assumption that a vaccine will be available from mid-December 2020.
‘This will be a mass vaccination programme to achieve the most important public health goal in our lifetimes.’
It was obtained by MSP Neil Findlay.
Plans are being laid for the NHS to be put on standby to start delivering the vaccine in early December, Pulse reported.
The Royal College of GPs told MailOnline it was ‘not aware’ of conversations about delivering a vaccine happening with practices yet.
But a spokesman said they would ‘welcome’ general practice’s involvement in the vaccination programme.
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘General practice sits at the heart of communities and patients have trust in GPs and our teams – what’s more, we deliver an influenza vaccination programme every year, achieving high take up rates amongst those groups most at risk.
‘It makes absolute sense for general practice, with our local knowledge and expertise, to play a key role in the roll out of any forthcoming Covid-19 vaccination programme, and the College has been making this point at the highest levels.
‘However, GPs and our teams are already working under considerable pressure, making more patient consultations than we were before the pandemic and delivering the largest and most complicated flu vaccination programme ever.
‘Setting up and delivering a new vaccination programme on the scale that is necessary would be a significant challenge and general practice would need to be properly resourced, both in terms of investment and workforce, to be able to meet it.
‘There would also need to be clear messaging, both to GPs and patients about which services need to be prioritised over the winter months with finite resources.’
It comes after the Mail on Sunday reported in late October that the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust was preparing to give the vaccine to its staff in December.
NHS Lothian and the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust are both putting together plans to roll out a vaccine in December, according to reports
Chief executive Glen Burley wrote in a leaked email: ‘Our Trust, alongside NHS organisations nationally, has been told to be prepared to start a Covid-19 staff vaccine programme in early December.
‘The latest intelligence states a coronavirus vaccine should be available this year with NHS staff prioritised prior to Christmas.
‘The vaccine is expected to be given in two doses, 28 days apart.’ He also urged his colleagues to ensure they had the flu jab by the end of November so that they could qualify for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Trust, told a hospital board meeting at the end of October: ‘I’m hoping for a Covid-19 vaccine to be available to healthcare providers some time in December. It has not been confirmed yet but I’m hoping to be able to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to our staff.’
A secret memo obtained by Freedom of Information request and published two days ago showed NHS Lothian, in Scotland, requesting meetings with local authorities about the future roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine.
It reads: ‘Timescales are uncertain, but we are working to an assumption that a vaccine will be available from mid-December 2020.’
Race for a coronavirus vaccine: Nine candidates in final stage of clinical trials
As scientists race to develop a coronavirus vaccine to bring the world back to normal, MailOnline has taken a look at the prospective candidates.
Vaccine trials were halted on Wednesday but it may still be ready this year
The Oxford Vaccine
When will it be ready?: The end of 2020/ early 2021. Despite the trials being suspended on Wednesday, its developers and Number 10 remain confident that the vaccine could be ready for use either at the end of this year or early next year. They say a pause is common in trials, and that its development was also stopped in July after a suspected side-effect was detected.
How does it work?: The vaccine works by exposing participants to a weakened common cold adenovirus which has had proteins from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 attached to its surface. The idea is that the exposure allows the immune system to build an immune response, meaning they are protected if they are infected by the real virus.
Has the UK secured doses?: Yes, 100 million. The US has secured a further 300 million doses, along with several other countries. These will be rolled out in an equitable manner.
How much does it cost?: AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University, has said it will not profit from the it, but may earn extra royalties if the coronavirus becomes an endemic infection like flu. The US has spent $1.2 billion (£930 million) securing doses, meaning they are worth $4 (£3.10) each.
Biontech vaccine may be ready this year
When will it be ready?: At the end of this year, say researchers. The vaccine is being developed by a German company in partnership with American drugmaker Pfizer. It is recruiting 30,000 volunteers to its stage three trials.
How does it work?: This is an RNA vaccine, a type that has never been approved by regulators before. It will involve injecting a fragment of genetic material from coronavirus into participants. This will expose their immune systems to a weakened version of the virus and, hopefully, trigger a response which will protect them from the real virus.
Has the UK secured doses?: Yes, 30 million doses. The US has also ordered 100 million doses.
Price?: The US is paying $2 billion (£1.5 billion) for its doses, or about $20 (£15) a jab.
Moderna vaccine entered human trials
When will it be ready?: Very end of this year or next year. The vaccine has recruited 20,000 participants for its stage three trials. Providing no potential side effects are observed, it will then go through to a second test on more patients next month. This means it could be available by the end of 2020.
How does it work?: This is an RNA-based vaccine, similar to the one being developed by Biontech.
Has the UK secured doses?: No. Reports suggest the UK’s task force has not managed to secure any doses of this vaccine.
How much does it cost?: The US has ordered 100 million doses at a price of $1.5 billion (£1.1 billion). This means one jab costs $32 (£25).
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, UK and France
Sanofi vaccine won’t be available this year
When will it be ready?: First half of 2021. The vaccine entered phase two clinical trials in September, involving 440 adults. It will reach phase three trials in December this year. There may be setbacks along the way, meaning the vaccine could take longer to develop.
How does it work?: Participants are injected with DNA coding for the antigens of the coronavirus and a chemical which makes it more potent. It is hoped this will trigger an immune response.
Has the UK secured doses?: Yes. Up to 60 million will be supplied should the vaccine be shown to work.
How much does it cost?: Unknown. This information has not been provided.
Sputnik V, Russia
Sputnik V is safe, according to Kremlin, but it has been criticised by scientists
When will it be ready?: ‘Imminently’. The Russian medical research institute and Russian defence ministry have developed this vaccine. But it has faced serious criticism both inside and outside Russia because results from its human trials are yet to be published. It also hasn’t cleared large human trials, with researchers only launching one involving 40,000 volunteers on 26 August. Scientists say the vaccine has been rushed without proper checks, and could pose a risk to those taking it. The Kremlin began appealing for volunteers for the vaccine this week after a first batch was produced, according to the TASS news agency.
How does it work?: The Russian vaccine works by carrying a piece of the coronavirus genetic code into a participant via another virus. It is hoped this will produce an immune response.
Has the UK secured doses?: No. Countries lining up to try the vaccine include Mexico, which has secured 32 million doses, and Kazakhstan, which is set to buy two million.
How much does it cost?: The price of the vaccine is yet to be revealed.
It is not clear when the Sinovac vaccine will be available
When will it be ready?: Unknown. The vaccine entered final-stage trials in Brazil in July, and then in Indonesia in August. Results show that while younger and middle-aged people produced antibodies, older people had a weaker immune response. The vaccine was given emergency approval for limited use in July, reports suggest, although it appears to still be subject to testing. It was previously reported as being second only to the Oxford vaccine, but its complete test results are yet to be published. It is one of four vaccine candidates in development in China.
How does it work?: It involves injecting patients with an inactivated form of the virus, prompting their immune systems to develop a response.
Has the UK secured doses?: Unknown. Reports suggest no doses have been secured.
How much does it cost?: China is yet to publish this information.