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Covid-19 vaccine likely to be available to adults before children, says medic

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street yesterday

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street yesterday

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Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam

10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street yesterday

A vaccine for Covid-19 is likely to be available to adults before children, England's deputy chief medical officer has said.

A vaccine for Covid-19 is likely to be available to adults before children, England's deputy chief medical officer has said.

Speaking at the daily Number 10 press conference yesterday, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said a vaccine may be first licensed for adults, adding that children appear to be less affected by the virus.

Multiple versions of a vaccine are being researched worldwide and more than 600 people have taken part in the Oxford vaccine trial.

Prof Van-Tam said: "We are following the developments in vaccine research across the world, including in the UK. We remain very hopeful that there will be a breakthrough at some point in the future.

"I think what I can say to you is that it is more likely than not that the first vaccines will be licensed in adults in the first instance.

"So far the epidemiological evidence is not showing us that there is a massive burden of disease or burden of mortality in children, it is actually completely at the other end of the scale, it is in the elderly."

Questions were raised at the conference about whether vaccination will need to be compulsory.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously said there was a "very strong argument" for compulsory vaccination of school children.

Yesterday, Mr Hancock played down suggestions that vaccination would have to be compulsory, adding that any rollout would begin with the most vulnerable.

He said: "I think the extent of the public's reaction to following the lockdown shows we will be able to achieve very, very high levels of vaccination without taking that step."

Mr Hancock added that the Government was not ruling anything out but proceeding on the basis there will be enormous uptake due to the "obvious benefits" of the vaccine.

The Health Secretary warned there is no guarantee that a vaccine will be found.

"We can't assume there will be a vaccine. There is no coronavirus vaccine yet for any of the existing coronaviruses and this is uncertain science," he said.

Mr Hancock was also asked what his message would be to people who are against vaccinations.

He said: "I think there has been no greater demonstration in modern history that vaccines save lives than the need for a vaccine to save lives and to get the world going again following the outbreak of Covid-19. We will only license a vaccine when it is both effective and safe."

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has told a town hall meeting that he thinks a coronavirus vaccine will be developed "by the end of this year".

Mr Trump also said during the event sponsored by Fox News Channel that his government was putting its "full power and might" behind remdesivir, a drug that has shown early promise as a treatment. In response to a question from a Nebraska man who has recovered from Covid-19, Mr Trump said: "We think we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this year."

US health experts have repeatedly said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away, though the White House coronavirus task force's doctor Anthony Fauci said late last month that a vaccine could conceivably be in wide distribution as early as January.

During yesterday's event at the Lincoln Memorial, Mr Trump also increased his projection for the total US death total to 80,000 or 90,000 - up by more than 20,000 fatalities from what he had suggested just a few weeks ago - and struck a note of urgency over the economy, declaring "we have to reopen our country". He said: "We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible."

It came after intelligence documents showed US officials believe China covered up the extent of the outbreak to stock up on medical supplies.

Belfast Telegraph