‘More than one’ coronavirus vaccine will be ready in early 2021, Sage expert says

Sage expert Sir Jeremy Farrar has said he believes “more than one” coronavirus vaccine will be available by the beginning of next year.

Prof Farrar told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday he believed that much stricter social distancing measures would be needed until the vaccine is ready.

The Wellcome Trust director said: “I do believe the vaccines will be available in the first quarter of next year, I do believe that monoclonal antibodies to treat patients and save lives will be available in the coming months.

“It’s with that context that I think we need to reduce transmission now and we need to get ourselves back to the beginning of September as a country, not in piecemeal, not in fragments across the country, but as a whole country.”

A scientist at work during a visit by the Duke of Cambridge to the manufacturing laboratory where a vaccine against COVID-19 has been produced at the Oxford Vaccine Group's facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.
A scientist at work at the manufacturing laboratory where a vaccine against COVID-19 has been produced at the Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. (PA)

Prof Farrar added: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.

“I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very difficult period.

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“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year. It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now.”

Elsewhere in the interview Prof Farrar said he believed that the government had made a mistake by not implementing a so-called “circuit breaker” short-term lockdown.

He claimed it was not too late to stem the large rise in infections and said the “second best time” for a national lockdown is now.

A couple wearing face masks cross Oxford Circus, past a social distancing notice, in London, England, on October 16, 2020. London is to be placed under 'Tier 2' coronavirus lockdown measures from midnight tonight, meaning 'high' alert for covid-19. Most notably the change will introduce a ban on people from different households from mixing anywhere indoors, prompting particular concern within the already badly-affected hospitality industry. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A couple wearing face masks in Oxford Circus, London. (Getty)

Prof Farrar said the scientific advice given to the government said that the best course of action would have been to impose a circuit breaker on around 20 September, but it was not followed.

“You either have to go very early and harder than you may think, and more geographically dispersed than you may think, or you go incrementally, one week after another or one fortnight after another to try and introduce the restrictions,” he said.

“I am in favour of going earlier, I think when you go earlier the restrictions can be less draconian and you can have a bigger impact on transmission, and critically get that R value to 1 and below 1.

“That’s what we’ve got to aim for – it has to be the objective.”

Watch: Can you catch the coronavirus twice?

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