Britain’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, says the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out. The first doses are already on their way to the UK, with 800,000 due in the coming days, Pfizer said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS will contact people about jabs. Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff. But because hospitals already have the facilities to store the vaccine at -70C, as required, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place there – for care home staff, NHS staff and patients – so none of the vaccine is wasted.
The Pfizer/BioNTech jab is the fastest vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same steps that normally span 10 years. The UK has already ordered 40 million doses of the jab – enough to vaccinate 20 million people. The doses will be rolled out as quickly as they can be made by Pfizer in Belgium, Mr Hancock said, with the first load next week and then “several millions” throughout December. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the first people in Scotland will be immunised on Tuesday. The bulk of the rollout will be next year, Mr Hancock said. “2020 has been just awful and 2021 is going to be better,” he said. “I’m confident now, with the news today, that from spring, from Easter onwards, things are going to be better. And we’re going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy.”
Wilson, Penn Ink Regeneron Pact to Use Gene Therapy Tech to Deliver COVID-19 Antibodies
Gene therapy pioneer Jim Wilson and the University of Pennsylvania are teaming up with Regeneron to help deliver its COVID-19 antibody cocktail using adeno-associated virus (AAV) tech in the hope of curbing infection via a nasal spray. The antibody cocktail, made up of casirivimab and imdevimab, was given a speedy authorization by the FDA less than two weeks ago as a treatment for certain COVID-19 patients. But, keeping up with the fast pace of SARS-CoV-02 R&D, Regeneron is not resting on its laurels and now wants to find a quicker way of delivering its therapy while also working on it as a prophylactic.
These antibodies are currently injected into patients, but Regeneron and Penn will use Wilson’s gene therapy know-how to attempt a nasal spray formulation using AAV vectors. The belief is that this could prevent infection with the virus using a technology typically used in high-tech gene therapies. The group plans to study the safety and effectiveness of using AAV vectors to introduce the sequence of the cocktail’s virus-neutralizing antibodies directly to nasal epithelial cells and see whether it can help protect against the disease. The first step is to finish preclinical trials; if successful, an IND will be sent off to the FDA for human trials.