LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Thursday said it would partner with an Oxford-based firm to provide testing for the T cell response of coronavirus vaccine candidates to try to assess their immune responses.
T cell immunity is thought to be essential to protection against infection from the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus, and could provide longer term immunity than antibodies.
The UK Vaccine Taskforce has chosen Oxford Immunotec to supply T cell testing for its assessment of different vaccine candidates.
“It is important to be able to assess the different vaccines head-to-head and the T cell response is part of our portfolio of accredited assays that we are employing for cross comparisons,” Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Vaccines Taskforce, said in a statement.
Britain has signed supply deals for six different coronavirus vaccine candidates, including those being made by AstraZeneca <AZN.L> and Pfizer <PFE.N> and BioNTech <22UAy.F>, seen as among the frontrunners in the race for a vaccine.
Oxford Immunotec said its techonology platform enabled the centralisation of fresh blood samples from different locations to measure the T cell response in a standardised way.
It said the platform, known as T-SPOT, was being used to identify the T cells made in response to the pathogen that causes tuberculosis.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Barbara Lewis)
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it had changed its rules around administering and distributing vaccines to make the speedy rollout of any COVID-19 vaccine easier and increase the number of people able to give jabs.
The change comes into force after a consultation on the plans, which include giving Britain’s medical regulator the ability to grant temporary authorisation for any coronavirus vaccine that meets safety and quality standards but before it has received a full licence.
The new rules also allow more healthcare workers to give COVID-19 and flu vaccines.
“These legal changes will help us in doing everything we can to make sure we are ready to roll out a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it has passed clinical trials and undergone rigorous checks by the regulator,” health minister Matt Hancock said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday there were some hopeful signs that a vaccine would be secured for COVID-19 but he warned that the country must be realistic because it could not be taken for granted.
A report on Thursday said the National Health Service (NHS) was in talks with the British Medical Association (BMA) which represents doctors, and others around mobilising the rollout of a potential COVID-19 vaccine from December, estimating there was around a 50% chance of a vaccine being available at that time.
Asked about the report, a spokesman for the health ministry said there were no certainties in the development, production or timing of a vaccine.
“We are working at pace for the delivery of any potential COVID-19 vaccination programme as quickly as possible, but the scale of what is rolled out and when will depend on a safe, effective vaccine being available,” he said.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout, additional reporting by Rebekah Mathew; editing by Stephen Addison)
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