Deputy chief medical officer calls for ‘fair distribution’ of a Covid-19 vaccine

Dr Jenny Harries
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England’s deputy chief medical officer has advocated for “fair distribution” of any Covid-19 vaccine after it was reported that Donald Trump is considering fast-tracking a UK Covid-19 vaccine candidate before the US election.

According to reports, the White House is considering granting emergency authorisation for a vaccine being developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile Trump also announced the emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma for Covid-19 patients in the US.

But NHS officials said that the plasma studies which have emerged from America are “not conclusive”.

Commenting on the prospect of the vaccine being fast-tracked, England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said that everyone around the globe should have “fair and safe access to vaccine development”.

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Dr Harries told Sky News: “We have a global crisis… It is really important that everyone around the world has fair and safe access to vaccine development.

“Obviously those countries which are more developed have the facilities to develop the vaccine and get it safely out to their populations. But I think all public health colleagues would be wanting fair distribution.”

It comes after US officials announced plans to allow emergency use of blood plasma treatment for coronavirus patients.

The study, led by the Mayo Clinic, indicated that patients treated early – within three days of diagnosis – with convalescent plasma which has high levels of antibodies had an improved chance of survival.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which is supporting the British convalescent plasma research, said that randomised controlled trials are the “gold standard” and the ones published in the US are observational studies.

Research in the UK is assessing whether convalescent plasma donations can be transfused into patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response.

The plasma from former patients is hoped to be rich in the antibodies that develop as a person recovers from an illness.

It is transfused into people who are seriously ill with Covid-19 and struggling to develop their own antibodies.

If the trial is successful, being treated with convalescent plasma could become a widespread practice in hospitals.

Commenting on the US convalescent plasma news, an NHSBT spokesperson said: “NHS Blood and Transplant is already collaborating with the wider NHS on world-leading treatment trials of convalescent plasma.

“The observational studies coming from America are promising and support the need for people to continue to donate convalescent plasma in England. However, they are not conclusive.

“Randomised control trials are the gold standard for determining the effectiveness of a new treatment. The UK is leading the world in setting up randomised controlled trials for Covid-19 convalescent plasma.

“We need people who have recovered from Covid-19 to offer to donate at nhsbt.nhs.uk.”

– Donate by calling or 0300 123 2323 or visiting www.nhsbt.nhs.uk.

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