Oxford University expert says life could be ‘back to normal by spring’ after vaccine breakthrough

An expert has claimed life could return to normal ‘by spring’ after a major vaccine breakthrough.

Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, and a government adviser on life sciences, said he was speaking with some confidence after the success of the latest coronavirus vaccine trials by Pfizer and BioNTech were announced.

They said on Monday that its Covid-19 vaccine study showed their vaccine jab was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing the disease.

The UK Government has secured about 100 million doses of the jab in an agreement with the companies.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman has said that 10 million of those will be manufactured for UK by end of the year, if passed by regulators.

said that other vaccines were now likely to become available in the near future.

Sir John said that he was “really delighted with this result”.

Asked if people could look forward to a return to normal life by the spring, he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: “Yes, yes, yes, yes. I am probably the first guy to say that but I will say that with some confidence.”

He added: “It shows that you can make a vaccine against this little critter. Ninety percent is an amazing level of efficacy.

“It rolls the pitch for other vaccines because I can’t see any reason now why we shouldn’t have a handful of good vaccines.”

Prof Sir John Bell has said organising the distribution of the vaccine would be “challenging” but that the UK was well-placed to benefit once it becomes available.

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“They will obviously start in the US – that’s probably appropriate. BioNTech is a German company so there will be, I am sure, doses made available for Europe,” he said.

“The UK has done a pre-approval agreement to purchase up 30 million doses of this vaccine, so we are very well prepared to get access to this vaccine when it becomes available.

“The manufacturing challenges are not small, so people need be ready to wait a bit to get it.”

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford said that he welcomed the “good news” that progress had been made, but said he wanted to find out more and wasn’t tempted to declare that a “magic bullet” to cure coronavirus had been found.

“It is good news, of course, if any of the vaccines in trials are making progress,” he said at the daily Welsh Government briefing.

“I think you would always want to read carefully what a particular competitor in this field says on their own behalf.

“I’m not going to be tempted today, as I’ve tried not to be tempted throughout coronavirus, to suggest that this somehow means that there is a magic bullet on the horizon and coronavirus is about to disappear out of our lives.”

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