UK likely to have Covid-19 vaccine by early 2021: Hancock

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed that a coronavirus vaccine is “most likely” to be ready in the first few months of 2021, if it gets approved.

In a statement on Monday, Hancock said it was “looking up” that the vaccine being developed by experts at the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca would be granted approval for use soon after trials in several countries, including the UK, the US and Brazil, Xinhua news agency reported.

His statement came at a time when countries, such as the UK, China, Russia and the US, are engaged in a race against time to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

The manufacturing of doses was already starting, Hancock said, so that it could be “rolled out” across the country when given the all-clear.

A vaccine would be a game-changer in combating the ovid-19 pandemic, giving vital protection particularly to the elderly and other vulnerable people, though it could take many months to roll out across the population, said the newspaper.

The UK may also be facing difficult months this autumn and winter seasons because Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are expected to rise, though doctors have significantly improved care, raising hopes that the death rate will be far lower.

As of Tuesday, the UK has reported a total of 352,451 coronavirus cases, with 41,643 deaths.