Exclusive There are talks taking place at the highest levels around mobilising for a potential Covid vaccine from December, with some sources putting the chances of the programme being started this year as ’50/50′, Pulse has learnt.
Pulse has learnt from a number of sources that discussions are taking place between NHS England, the BMA and other groups over who will be administering vaccines and who will be the first cohorts to receive the vaccine.
There is no guarantee the vaccine will be ready by December, but there is growing optimism around this being a possibility. One source close to the discussions told Pulse the feeling is ’50/50′.
There is currently no agreement over who is going to administer the vaccines, including whether it will be GPs and the Government has told Pulse that it will ‘use the military’ if needed.
The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said in a televised briefing to the nation on 21 September that a vaccine could become available before the end of this year, but said it was ‘much more likely’ that it would happen ‘in the first half of next year’.
However, Pulse has learnt that there is optimism around the first cohorts being given a vaccine in December.
There have been discussions around whether the first people to be vaccinated will be care home patients and their staff, or health care professionals, including GPs.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation last month said people living in care homes and the staff looking after them should be at the very top of the list for a potential Covid-19 vaccine. Healthcare and social care workers would be next in the list of priorities, according to its updated analysis of who is most at risk.
In July, Pulse reported the UK Government had ordered 65m syringes from one manufacturer as part of preparations for a potential Covid-19 vaccine.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘The Government will do everything needed to roll out a successful vaccine quickly and safely.
‘An enormous amount of planning and preparation has already taken place including ensuring we have adequate provision, transport, PPE and logistical expertise.
‘We are working closely with the NHS and we will use the military in the planning of logistics as necessary, as they have already gone to great lengths to successfully support our operational efforts.’