Sinovac is one of four Chinese vaccines in last-stage human trials, a higher number than any other nation in the world.
Some are concerned about the quality of the vaccines and on Nov 9, Sinovac was forced to suspend trials of its vaccine in Brazil after a participant died.
Clinical trials in Brazil reported on Jan 13 that Sinovac was 50.4 per cent effective, only slightly above the World Health Organisation’s minimum standard of 50 per cent.
On Jan 11 Indonesia became the first country outside China to grant emergency approval to Sinovac’s vaccine, amid surging infections and deaths, followed two days later by Turkey. Interim data showed it is 65.3 per cent effective, Indonesia’s food and drugs authority said.
On Dec 31, China approved the Sinopharm vaccine, its first approved shot for general public use. Sinopharm, developed by Beijing Biological Products Institute, says its vaccine is 79 percent effective against the novel coronavirus.
What’s happening with the Sanofi/GSK vaccine?
Drug companies Sanofi and GSK have announced a delay in their Covid-19 vaccine programme after trials showed an “insufficient response” in the over-50s.
The UK had ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine. Rollout is now not expected before the last-quarter of 2021.
Who will get the vaccine first?
Key workers, such as teachers, will also be prioritised in the second phase, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has also suggested that critical workers will be in the “highest category of phase two”.
When asked how the Government will identify which key workers need the vaccine more urgently, the Health Secretary shared that 99 per cent of deaths are in the top nine groups of the JCVI guidelines. After that, the goal is to reduce transmission and get back to normal as soon as possible.
The Prime Minister confirmed on Jan 27 that schools may reopen on March 8 depending on the success of the vaccine rollout.
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What is the vaccination programme’s progress so far?
Over 15 million people have been vaccinated as of Feb 15, reaching the Government’s target of vaccinating those in the top four JCVI priority groups by mid-February.
The UK’s Covid-19 vaccine delivery plan was released in January, setting out the Government’s plans for tens of millions of people to be immunised by the spring.
The Health Secretary pledged that all adults would be offered a vaccine by the autumn. In order to meet this target, mass vaccination centres have also opened across England. These venues include ExCel in London, Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester and Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey.
For those in highly rural areas, the vaccine will be brought to them via mobile teams.
It was revealed on Feb 1 that all elderly care home residents had been offered the first dose of the vaccine, following the target set to inoculate those in care homes by the end of January.
The Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has said there is potential that the vaccine could eventually be administered in the form of a pill. This method could help to alleviate supply issues which have hindered the progress of the roll out in some areas of the world such as Europe.
On Feb 7, Mr Zahawi stated that the Government was “making sure the UK will always have the capability and capacity to manufacture the variant vaccines that will deal with any variant virus.”
READ MORE: Tracking UK Covid vaccinations: Are we on target to end lockdown?
Will the jab protect us from the new variants?
Sir Patrick Vallance said on Jan 22 that there is “increasing confidence” that the UK variant will be susceptible to the vaccine.
The chief scientific advisor told a Downing Street press conference: “There’s increasing evidence from laboratory studies that the variant in the UK will be susceptible to the vaccines.
“There’s increasing confidence coupled with a very important clinical observation that individuals who have been infected previously and have generated antibodies appear to be equally protected against original virus and new variant.”
From Feb 9, surge testing will began in areas of Manchester following the discovery of cases of the Kent variant in two unconnected households. Extra testing sites and door to door testing will take place in areas such as Moss Side and Fallowfield, as well as continuing in parts of Bristol, Merseyside and Worcestershire.
Further new strains have also been located in South Africa and Brazil. The South Africa variant was found in Britain at the end of December.
On Feb 7, it was revealed that the Oxford vaccine “provides minimal protection” against mild disease caused by the variant of Covid-19 first discovered in South Africa, according to early data from a small trial.