Dear Editor – In the UK on Friday, Harriet Brewis writing in the Evening Standard says the woman who helped shape the UK Government’s Covid mass vaccination efforts has said she wants to see vaccines replaced with “improved formats” such as nasal sprays or pills.
I wish to quote the article.
Kate Bingham, who led the UK Vaccine Taskforce until the end of 2020, said officials would need to establish quicker ways of administering coronavirus inoculations in order to protect the public as quickly as possible.
Her comments came amid mounting concerns over Britain’s AstraZeneca vaccine supplies, with the EU threatening to ban exports from the bloc amid crippling shortages across Europe.
Ms. Bingam told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday: “We need to improve the vaccine formats because, frankly, two injections delivered by healthcare professionals is not a good way of delivering vaccines.
“We need to get vaccine formats which are much more scalable and distributable, so, whether they are pills or patches or nose sprays, we need to find better ways of developing and delivering vaccines.”
Her comments came hours after a fourth Covid jab candidate showed “phenomenal” early results, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailing its potential as “another weapon in our arsenal to beat this virus”.
The Novavax vaccine, which will be manufactured in Stockton-on-Tees if approved, was found to be nearly 90 percent effective against the original strain of the virus and also showed good efficacy against the new Kent and South African variants.
The UK has secured access to 60 million doses of the shot, which could be available in the second half of this year if it is approved by the medicines regulator.
It has an advantage over those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna in that it can be stored in a regular fridge rather than needing ultra-cold storage.
Ms. Bingham, who has participated in trials of the Novavax jab, shared her delight at the promising preliminary findings.
She told the BBC: “It’s a fantastic result because it shows that the Novavax vaccine is effective against the UK variant as well as the South African variant and has shown phenomenal efficacy, and it’s made in Teesside.
Meanwhile, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was “particularly thrilled to see such positive results” having also taken part in the trial personally.
“I want to thank the thousands of trial volunteers, without whom these results would not have been possible,” he added.
Professor Paul Heath, who led the Novavax trial said that while some variants were harder to tackle, scientists were able to adapt jabs quickly to “get ahead of new strains.”
Experts have been deeply worried about new mutant strains of coronavirus, including those found in South Africa and Brazil, due to the fact existing jabs may not be effective against them.
But the Novavax candidate was found to offer 86 percent protection against the infectious new Kent variant, and 60 percent against the South African mutation.
Prof Heath told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was the reason for optimism that vaccines could keep pace with any new variants that emerge.
He said the results from his trial were “yet another great step forward for the UK”, adding: “I think the technology we have both with this vaccine, the Novavax technology, and the other vaccines, it is such that they can adapt quickly so we can expect to see if required, new vaccines or bivalent vaccines, where two different strains are joined together in the one vaccine.
“And that now can be done at pace so that we can keep up with these variants should they prove to be difficult to prevent with the vaccine that we have at the moment.
“We’ve seen for the UK that the UK variant can be successfully prevented with this vaccine, which is great.
“Yes, the South African variant is more difficult… But all the technologies we are now seeing mean that we can adapt very quickly to such new variants and produce new vaccines at a pace so that we can keep up – and in fact get ahead of – the virus.” End of quote.