I'd be first in Covid vaccine queue if I could, says JVT as he confirms elderly will be first

ENGLAND'S Deputy Chief Medical Officer has admitted he would be first in line for a coronavirus vaccine – if he could.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam confirmed that elderly people will be the highest priority for a potential Covid jab when it becomes available.

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Asked whether he would be prepared to be among the first to be given the jab, he said: "If I could be at the front of the queue, I would be."

He also revealed he had called his elderly mother to urge her to get the jab as soon as it's available.

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, he said: "I told her, Mum make sure when you’re called you’re ready, be ready to take this up, because of your age, just be ready to be called."

Asked about whether the vaccine would be available privately, he said it should be prioritised for those who need it, rather than those who can afford to buy it.

Prof Wei Shen Lei, chair of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, said its current interim recommendation for who should get the jab first is to prioritise the most vulnerable in society.

He said: "At the very top of our priority list are care home residents and people who work in care homes.

"Following on, we will prioritise all the individuals going down age bands down from 80 plus year olds to 60 plus year olds.

"Following on, we will then prioritise adults who have an underlying health condition that puts them at risk.

"Following on from there, we will keep going on down in age bands to individuals who are aged 50 and above.

"If phase one is completed then we will have protected hopefully over 99% of those individuals who are at risk of dying from Covid-19."

He said that the committee has not decided yet on who else should be vaccinated.

It comes after Pfizer announced it had the first effective Covid vaccine, which can prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting the bug.

The NHS is now preparing to be able to start delivering a potential jab from the beginning of next month in the event it is approved.

Matt Hancock said the UK's medicines regulator could approve the Pfizer or Oxford vaccines within days of a licence application being submitted due to rolling analysis of the data.

The Health Secretary told the Commons the focus was on delivering the jabs if they pass safety tests and are approved by regulators, with a further vaccine possibly coming next summer.

British regulators could take only a week to approve a coronavirus vaccine after the manufacturers provide safety data, the government advisor Professor Sir John Bell has told the Newscast podcast. 

Professor Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said: They will, I suspect, take a very short time, probably a week or less to make an adjudication to allow the vaccine to be rolled out.”

Who will be eligible for first Covid vaccine doses in UK?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has examined data on who suffers the worst outcomes from coronavirus and who is at highest risk of death.

Its interim guidance says the order of priority should be:

  • Older adults in a care home and care home workers
  • All those aged 80 and over and health and social care workers, though they may move up the list
  • Anyone 75 and over
  • People aged 70 and over
  • All those aged 65 and over
  • High-risk adults under 65
  • Moderate-risk adults under 65
  • All those aged 60 and over
  • All those 55 and over
  • All those aged 50 and over
  • The rest of the population, with priority yet to be determined.

We've got one of the most innovative and agile regulators on the planet. They're called the MHRA. This is what they do, and they will be really good at it. So I don't think regulatory approval is going to be a delay in getting, at least not much of a delay, in getting this into the arms of people.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said the military and NHS staff are on standby to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine across the UK from the start of December and will work "seven days a week", with GPs, new vaccination centres and pharmacists all playing a role.

Pop-up vaccination clinics are also expected to be used in some areas.

But the Royal College of GPs questioned which work they should stop in order to fulfil the vaccine programme.

Its chairman, Professor Martin Marshall, said: "The workload and resource pressures that were facing general practice before the pandemic still exist and they need to be addressed.

"GPs and our teams won't be able to deliver this programme alone."

Mr Hancock said there were many hurdles to overcome before the "vast task" of vaccination could begin, including thorough examination of clinical trial data.

But he said the NHS was leading the work to get a vaccine to those most in need as soon as possible, including the elderly and health and care staff, though most other people will not get a jab until 2021.

The roll-out of a vaccine would ease the pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to avoid having to extend the national lockdown in England when it expires on December 2.

Senior Conservative backbenchers, including former Brexit minister Steve Baker, have formed a "Covid recovery group" to resist such a move.

Experts hope that the first phase of vaccination of priority groups could prevent the vast majority of deaths from Covid-19.

Asked whether a vaccine could be available by Christmas, Mr Hancock said that was "absolutely a possibility", adding that vaccination clinics would be open on bank holidays and weekends.

The UK Government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for about a third of the UK population.

It expects 10 million of these doses to arrive in the UK before the end of this year, with people given two doses, 21 days apart.

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