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Britain authorises temporary use of flu vaccine to help meet demand

By Reuters Staff

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has authorised the temporary use of the Flublok flu vaccine and ordered millions of doses as it seeks to give jabs to more people during the coronavirus pandemic.

A surge in demand for vaccines to ward off winter flu has led to shortages in some European cities, raising the risk of a potentially lethal “twindemic” as COVID-19 cases spike.

Britain is targeting the vaccination of more than 30 million people, nearly half the population, and said it had given authorisation for the supply of Flublok, which has been used in the United States for the last three winters.

“Flublok has been in regular use in the United States – and the evidence shows that it is an excellent product,” deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam said.

“I want to reassure everyone that all vaccines have undergone robust clinical trials and rigorous checks by the regulator to ensure they are safe, effective and of a high quality.”

Flublok received authorisation for temporary supply from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The MHRA has the power to take such a step when it is satisfied that a medicine is safe and effective in response to a public health threat.

The regulator has been given extra powers during the course of the pandemic, such as being able also to temporarily authorise any coronavirus vaccine that meets safety and quality standards before it has received a full licence.

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Britain Changes Vaccine Rollout Measures for COVID and Flu | Top News

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)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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