The UK Government has ordered 50 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine being developed in response to new variants of Covid-19 should they be needed in future.
Ministers said the partnership with biopharmaceutical company CureVac will boost the UK’s capacity to develop and manufacture variant vaccines.
The new order is on top of the 407 million doses of other coronavirus vaccines already secured for the next two years.
The CureVac vaccine is subject to approval for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The news comes as both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs are found to work well against the variants currently dominant in the UK.
Here are the vaccines the UK has access to:
– What types of vaccine have been ordered?
– Adenoviral vaccines: These are based on weakened versions of adenoviruses, which are a group of viruses that typically infect membranes of the eyes, respiratory tract, urinary tract, intestines and nervous system, and include the common cold.
– mRNA vaccines: Traditional vaccines are made up of small or inactivated doses of the whole disease-causing organism, or the proteins that it produces, which are introduced into the body to provoke the immune system into mounting a response. But mRNA vaccines trick the body into producing some of the viral proteins itself.
– Inactivated whole virus vaccines: Inactivated vaccines contain whole bacteria or viruses which have been killed, or small parts of bacteria or viruses, such as proteins or sugars, which cannot cause disease.
– Protein adjuvant vaccines: An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, and has been shown to create a stronger and longer lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone.
The use of an adjuvant may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, which allows more vaccine doses to be produced.
The UK has placed orders for vaccines from:
– BioNTech and Pfizer
Doses: 40 million – enough for 20 million people
The vaccine is being rolled out across the UK, having been approved for use on December 2 last year.
– Oxford and AstraZeneca
Doses: 100 million – enough for 50 million people
The jab is being administered throughout the UK, after getting the green light from the MHRA on December 30.
Doses: 17 million – enough for 8.5 million people
The jab from the US biotech firm has been approved for use in the UK, but doses will not be available until the spring.
Type: Protein adjuvant.
Doses: Under the in-principle agreement, the UK has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine
The UK is providing infrastructure to Novavax in running a phase three clinical trial in the UK, and plans to manufacture its vaccine in the UK with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.
Results from those trials show the vaccine offers 89% protection against Covid-19, but it still requires approval from the MHRA, which could take several weeks.
Doses: Some 30 million doses have been secured from Janssen, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson
Results from clinical studies show the jab is 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19 28 days after vaccination.
Deliveries of the vaccine are expected in the second half of 2021, should it receive approval from the MHRA.
Type: Inactivated whole virus
Doses: Pending approval, the original order for 60 million is set for delivery in the second half of this year and now the option for a second batch of 40 million doses has been triggered. These have been earmarked for delivery in 2022.
Valneva’s site in Livingston, West Lothian, will manufacture the vaccine.
Clinical trials are ongoing, with the early-stage phase 1/2 study expected to read out within the next three months.
The jab is expected to be given as two doses.
– GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur
Type: Protein adjuvant
Doses: 60 million
Clinical trials for the vaccine are ongoing. Interim results of early phases of the trial showed an immune response comparable to patients who recovered from Covid-19 in adults aged 18 to 49 years, but a low immune response in older adults.
Doses: 50 million
Almost all vaccines developed through the agreement with the UK Government will be modifications of an existing jab by CureVac which is undergoing clinical trials.
The Government said the process is similar to the method used to update flu vaccines each year, however mRNA technology will allow fresh jabs to be developed more quickly.
The UK has placed an initial order for 50 million doses of new vaccines to be delivered later this year if they are required.