Everything you need to know about potential coronavirus vaccines

Credit: PA Images

On November 9, it was announced a potential vaccine for coronavirus could be rolled out across the UK by the end of the year providing millions of people with immunity.

The news of the vaccine was welcomed by the UK Government, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating the public would be ready if it is approved following further trials.

Not even two weeks after the announcement from Pfizer, two more vaccine trials showed promising results. Another American company said their vaccine could offer 95% protection from the virus.

Researchers at the Oxford University vaccine trial said their results were indicating a strong immune response in older adults, with initial data suggesting it can prevent 70.4% of people from getting the virus and up to 90% if a lower dose is used.

These have sparked confidence that multiple effective vaccines could be offered to people over the coming months.

The Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has previously stated that he would not rule out introducing a mandatory coronavirus vaccine scheme in the country if a vaccine becomes available, but what impact could it have and what could it mean for Wales?

Here is everything you need to know about how the potential new vaccines are providing hope to millions amid the pandemic.

Health minister Vaughan Gething has said he would not be opposed to a compulsory vaccination across Wales. Credit: PA Images

Where is the vaccine coming from?

The first vaccine to potentially be approved for distribution is the work of US drug giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech. Latest results from the company indicate that the vaccine has shown 95% efficiency.

Another American company, Moderna, have also said their vaccine shows 95% effectiveness.

One of the other viable frontrunners is here in the UK, being developed by the Oxford University Vaccine Trial.

Other vaccines are currently being worked on by different companies during this period, but these are the most promising developments.

When will a vaccine be available in Wales and the UK?

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, has said the Pfizer vaccine could be rolled out to the highest priority Britons by Christmas.

The Welsh Government responded to this by saying that planning was "well underway" for a potential vaccination scheme as early as next month.

In a statement, the Welsh Government said: "Planning for the delivery of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in Wales is well underway.

"This includes organising the logistics for transporting the vaccine, identifying suitable venues for vaccinations to take place, and ensuring that healthcare professionals are available and trained to administer the vaccines.

News about a potential coronavirus vaccine has been met with both welcome and caution. Credit: PA

"There will be limited supplies of a vaccine at first, so it will be offered to those at highest risk. The vaccines need to pass final safety checks, but if this occurs we will begin to immunise in December alongside other UK nations.

"Health and social care workers, care home residents and staff have been prioritised to receive a vaccine first, with roll out to older people in age bands from next year.”

For the Moderna vaccine, the UK Government has previously said any doses would not be available until spring 2021 “at the earliest”.

The Oxford University vaccine is still in phase three trials too but experts hope it could be rolled out soon after initial date was released from the trials. The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine when it goes in to production.

How many people will have access to a vaccine and who would get it first?

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and it is thought that 10 million could arrive before the end of the year. Wales would be given its share vaccines from this number.

The UK Government has also ordered 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 100 million of the Oxford University trial's offering.

It is important to note that some of these vaccines have to be administered in two doses, so for instance the order from Pfizer would serve 20 million people in the UK.

These would firstly be provided to the oldest and most vulnerable before being rolled out to other groups in the population.

Experts have warned that it might not be until late 2021 that all groups have received a vaccination.

Will vaccines be safe and how will it work?

Public Health Wales has confirmed that trial periods for vaccines are not shorter than any other similar vaccines.

They also said: "a vaccine will reach the public only when it is proven to work and be safe. This process has been sped up by prompt funding and a reduction in paperwork."

For both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, people will be required to receive two doses with a gap of time in between, with the first inoculations expected to take place before the end of the year.

Would the vaccine be mandatory?

As previously stated, the health minister Mr Gething has said he would not be opposed to a a compulsory vaccination across Wales when it is available.

He has also said he thought there would be a high level of take up from the public.

When speaking to ITV Wales Sharp End, Mr Gething said: "I actually think we'll see high levels of take up and as you know we need to have high levels of take up to provide protection for the whole population.''

What are people saying about the vaccine?

Developers of the Pfizer vaccine have said results showed "initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19. The CEO of the company, Dr Albert Bourla, has described it as "a great step for science and humanity".

Others welcomed the news of the first vaccine frontrunner with a more cautious approach, with First Minister Mark Drakeford discussing the news at a Welsh Government press conference on Monday.

"It is good news, of course, if any of the vaccines in trial are making progress," Mr Drakeford said.

"We will want to see the nature of any vaccine, how much protection it offers people for how long, but of course any vaccine that is emerging strongly from trials is to be welcomed because it will offer some new possibilities in the future."

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that he "welcomed" the vaccine news. Credit: Welsh Government.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said at a Downing Street press conference on Monday that he's hopeful we could see "some vaccine by Christmas" but urged people to not "get too over excited about where we are".