Vaccine ‘will be given to 2.5m Brits by Christmas’ with roll-out ‘starting in 2 weeks’

Coronavirus vaccines could reportedly be given to 2.5million Brits by Christmas with a national roll-out possibly starting in two weeks.

Brits are expected to be immunised as part of the biggest ever vaccination programme in NHS history.

Administration of the vaccine via the health service will be supported by an army of up to 30,000 volunteers.

It comes after the University of Oxford coronavirus vaccine produces a strong immune response in older adults, its latest trials have found.

The vaccine has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and people over 70.

Phase two data, published in The Lancet, suggests one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid-19 could build immunity, researchers say.

According to the researchers, volunteers in the trial demonstrated similar immune responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-69, and 70 and over).

The study of 560 healthy adults – including 240 over the age of 70 – found the vaccine is better tolerated in older people compared with younger adults.

The UK has 100 million doses of the Oxford jab on order, enough to vaccinate almost the entire population, pending regulatory approval.

The Oxford findings come after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine candidate has shown 95% efficacy, with a 94% effectiveness in those aged 65 and over.

Pfizer will seek approval from UK regulators within days, with a decision expected by the end of the month.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Today’s news is another positive development.

“Our medicines’ regulator is ready to do its critical work in assessing its safety.”

Study lead author Professor Andrew Pollard, from the University of Oxford, said: “Immune responses from vaccines are often lessened in older adults because the immune system gradually deteriorates with age, which also leaves older adults more susceptible to infections.

“As a result, it is crucial that Covid-19 vaccines are tested in this group who are also a priority group for immunisation.”

Researchers say their findings are promising as they show that the older people are showing a similar immune response to younger adults.

Dr Ramasamy added: “The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging.

“The populations at greatest risk of serious Covid-19 disease include people with existing health conditions and older adults.

“We hope that this means our vaccine will help to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society, but further research will be needed before we can be sure.”

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