In the last two weeks, two US companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced promising results for their coronavirus vaccines. This has raised hope that an end to the pandemic might finally be in sight. But when will the vaccine actually be ready in the UK?
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What’s the current status of coronavirus vaccines?
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech were the first to announce a breakthrough in the search for a coronavirus vaccine. On 9 November, the two companies announced that their vaccine had been found to be more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 based on preliminary trials.
More recently, Moderna announced that its candidate vaccine had been found to be 94.5% effective.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses taken several weeks apart.
AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford also have a candidate vaccine in the works. It’s trial results are due to be released soon.
How is the UK preparing for a potential vaccine?
The UK has preordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine already.
After Moderna’s announcement of its positive results, Health Secretary Matt Hancock disclosed that the UK will also preorder five million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, if it is approved.
On the gov.uk website, the government says that it has secured early access to over 355 million doses of coronavirus vaccine through agreements with separate vaccine developers who are in various stages of trials.
In addition to Pfizer and Moderna, the companies are:
- AstraZeneca/Oxford University (100 million doses)
- Novavax (60 million doses)
- Valneva (60 million doses)
- GSK/Sanofi (60 million doses)
- Janssen (30 million doses)
When will the vaccine actually be ready in the UK?
So far, there is no regulatory approval for any vaccine. Therefore, none of the vaccines are under production for large-scale use.
However, the government says that 10 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine might actually be ready and available for use in the UK by Christmas, pending regulatory approval.
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The other vaccines are unlikely to be ready for use in the UK until next year at the earliest.
The Health Secretary has said that the Moderna vaccine might not be available in the UK until next spring. This is because the US-based firm has to first ramp up its European supply chain.
Who will get the vaccine first?
When available, the vaccine will most likely be administered first to the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and health workers, before being made available to the wider population.
However, any worries about the rich being able to access the vaccine first have been quelled by Downing Street. The government has indicated that every person in the UK will get a free coronavirus jab via the NHS before private firms can sell it.
Will the vaccine end the lockdown and return things to normal?
That’s what we all hope for, but this might not happen as fast as we would probably like.
First, there are several issues that need ironing out. There’s the issue of actually manufacturing enough of the vaccine for everyone. There is then the issue of rolling out the vaccine and administering it to everyone.
With that said, lockdowns, social distancing and the wearing of masks are all likely to remain part of our lifestyle until everyone has been given access to the vaccine and the virus has stopped spreading.
Once this happens, we can expect an easing of restrictions. Gyms, restaurants, pubs and other hard-hit businesses will reopen and hopefully return to normal revenue. Then, the economy which has taken a huge hit from the virus might start recovering. This will be good news for investors.
As the market recovers from the impact of the coronavirus, there is potential for shares that have been trading at low prices to produce good returns in the long run.
This means that if you have got cash that you can afford to invest, you could put it in a tax-efficient investment account such as a stocks and shares ISA to take advantage of future growth prospects.
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