A leading figure in the UK’s vaccine rollout is “confident” all over-50s will have been offered a jab by May.
But chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce Clive Dix acknowledged that a mutation of Covid could prove resistant to vaccines although the UK would be “prepared and ahead of the game” if that happened.
Mr Dix said that continual research into the virus that first emerged towards the end of 2019 would ensure we remained on top of new variants that may attempt to evade the vaccine.
Despite new mutant strains of the virus emerging, including the recently identified South African variant, Dix is sure that all over the 50s will be vaccinated by May, following a leaked Downing Street’s announcement that was confirmed on Friday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He said: “We will work day and night to ensure we meet whatever the target that’s feasible can be met.
“So I’m very optimistic that we will meet the May target.”
While addressing claims that future mutations of the virus could slip pass the vaccine, Clive revealed: “Of course – when it will occur and whether it will occur is one thing.
“That’s what happened with the flu, we get these pandemic threats with flu, we should learn from the flu,” he told BBC’s Today.
He went on to add: “I believe this virus will be very similar [to the flu] – it will last a long time, it will be travelling around the world in different places, it will be endemic in certain countries and we need to do that work, yes.”
When probed into whether the virus could go under the radar and break past the vaccine, Dix responded: “I think there is the possibility but we will be ahead of the game.
“We’re not going to wait for it to happen – we now have capabilities in the UK to be responsive and that capability won’t just be for the use of the UK of course.
“Once we’ve done it, it will actually help the whole world because it will be part of that whole surveillance and reaction.”
Speaking about variants of the virus and plans to tackle it with vaccines, he told the BBC: “We’ll make libraries of future vaccines, just small amounts, enough to then, if it does occur, do a quick clinical study to see that it works and then start manufacturing it.”
Currently, it’s believed that over 11 million people have received the first dosage of the vaccine, with an estimated 15 million people needing to be jabbed by February 15 for the government to meet its pledge of vaccinating the most vulnerable.
Speaking on Sky News on February 5, Mr Dix said that if the vaccine does reduce various transmissions he “can’t see why all of them won’t.”
He said: “We’re starting to see some glimpses of helping the transmission,
“If it does, I can’t see any reason why all of them won’t so hopefully that data will emerge and we’ll start seeing a brighter future.”