Saturday 29 August 2020

Get your Covid-19 jab at the vet: Thousands of physiotherapists, dentists and even animal doctors will be trained to give injections in time for first coronavirus vaccination to be approved

The Government is drawing up new rules to fast-track any coronavirus vaccine by giving it emergency approval, when one is eventually found to be safe and protect patients from the life-threatening disease.
A change to current laws could allow the UK to sidestep the European Medicines Agency's red tape and get a jab rolled-out faster, without waiting for approval from the EU.
And the Government is also training up an army of medical workers to be able to give out the jabs in order to speed up the process. This could include pharmacists, midwives, paramedics, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and even vets. The workforce is set to be trained by October.
The race to find a vaccine for Covid-19 is hurtling ahead, with scientists around the world designing and trialling dozens of candidates in the hope that one will work and spell an end to the pandemic.
One of the most promising has been developed in the UK by researchers at Oxford University and is already in large-scale human trials to test its effectiveness. Donald Trump is reportedly considering fast-tracking it for use in the US before the election this November, even though scientists haven't proven it works.
When one is eventually found to be effective and safe, officials will scramble to get it to as many people as possible to avoid another devastating wave of deaths like the one Britain suffered this spring, when 40,000 infected patients died. 
A jab is not expected to be found until 2021 but Number 10 is drawing up emergency plans now in case of a scientific breakthrough before Christmas, officials said. 
The UK Government is training up an army of medical workers to be able to give out coronavirus jabs in order to speed up the process when a working one is found (stock image)
The UK Government is training up an army of medical workers to be able to give out coronavirus jabs in order to speed up the process when a working one is found (stock image)

Deputy chief medical officer for England, Dr Jonathan Van Tam, said today: 'We are making progress in developing Covid-19 vaccines which we hope will be important in saving lives, protecting healthcare workers and returning to normal in future.
'If we develop effective vaccines, it's important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible but only once strict safety standards have been met.

'The proposals consulted on today suggest ways to improve access and ensure as many people are protected from Covid-19 and flu as possible without sacrificing the absolute need to ensure that any vaccine used is both safe and effective.'
The new rules being drafted will not shortcut the path a vaccine must take before it is approved for human use, and rigorous clinical trials must still be completed.
It is intended, instead, to speed up the approval process by giving the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) the power to issue a 'temporary authorisation' without waiting for the jab to be fully licensed by Europe.
Rules during the Brexit transition period - which doesn't end until 2021 - mean any new medicine for coronavirus must be licensed by the European Medicines Agency.
But the new rule - for which officials are holding a three-week consultation - would mean that if scientists prove their vaccine works and is safe, the MHRA could approve it and get it used in Britain before it's licensed by the European Union.
This will not cut short safety trials or any of the scientific work but will mean less paperwork has to be done before the jab can be used.
Dr Christian Schneider, a director of standards in the MHRA, said: 'Whilst the existing licensing system or a new UK one from next year, is the preferred and expected route to supply any vaccine, these new measures will strengthen the regulatory regime and our ability to protect public health.'
The rules are being drafted now in case a working vaccine is found before the end of the year, while the Brexit transition period is still going.
Drug manufacturers are so hopeful that their jabs will work that they are already manufacturing millions of them without knowing whether they will be used. 
As well as speeding up the process of getting it from labs to patients, the British Government is planning to speed up the vaccination programme once it starts.
It will do this by training huge numbers of staff to give out the vaccines so there can be a constant flow of jabs being administered.
More doctors and nurses will be given the relevant training and health workers in other parts of the NHS may also be trained up.
Student doctors and nurses, and staff such as midwives, paramedics and physiotherapists could be among the newly trained staff. 
There are around 1.1million people working in the NHS and officials say 'no options are off the table' in who they could train up.
Everyone who is included in the programme will go through a 'robust training programme', the Department of Health said. 
Ministers are also reported to be considering drive-through vaccine clinics which work in a similar way to the regional coronavirus testing centres.
People could be able to drive to centres specially set up - possibly in GP surgery car parks, for example - and get the vaccine without having to go into a clinic or hospital.
This could make the process faster and make social distancing easier.
The car park plan was drawn up for flu vaccinations in the coming months, The Times reported, but it's possible that it could be used for a Covid-19 jab in future.

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