So what about vaccine safety, isn't this all rather new and rushed?
Well, the answer to that is both yes and no; the process has definitely been fast-tracked but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are often long delays, the processes of applying for ethics and funding etc; all of this takes time. But with so much funding and support, it has been possible to really fast track and streamline the different phases and run them simultaneously.
What is new, however, is the technology. A messenger RNA vaccine has never been approved anywhere in the world yet and there has never been a mass vaccination using this technology before. That’s not to say it won’t work, more that it is a new technology with no predecessor to observe. Additionally, there were some changes to the Human Medicine Regulations to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines this summer which can allow for the temporary authorisation of the supply of an unlicensed vaccine, as well as modifying the scope of immunity from civil liability. You can read this consultation paper on the government website.
So it is no simple task, but there is definitely hope for 2021! In reality, it will take a combination of sensible measures, a safe and reliable vaccine and access to efficacious drugs, therapies and treatments; as well as good surveillance and clear messages from our leadership to lead us into a post covid life. Partners across the world are working hard to ensure Christmas won’t be quite as precarious in 2021.
Wishing you a safe and healthy remainder of 2020.