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Covid-19 vaccine’s safety to be taken ‘very seriously’ by regulators

Regulators will take the safety of any new coronavirus vaccine “very seriously” and be rigorous looking at the data, a former government chief scientific adviser has said.
People with diabetes are far more likely to get covid19. Photo: Pixabay

Professor Sir Mark Walport said he had “complete confidence” in the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Sir Mark told Times Radio on Saturday that the MHRA and other global regulatory agencies will look at the vaccine data in a “rigorous fashion”.

“They are very clear what their job is, they are independent of the Government, they will look at the data in a rigorous fashion,” he said.

“The safety of the vaccine is very important, they will take it very seriously because we want a vaccine that works but we want one that is safe.”

Sir Mark also said that while there was a danger of overpromising and underdelivering it did seem there was a vaccine that could be available within months.

He also said that from a “long history” there was “no reason” to expect that a new coronavirus vaccine would have long-term side effects.

“There’s no reason to expect long-term side effects emerging. If there are going to be side effects there are the immediate ones,” he told Times Radio.

Professor Calum Semple, of Liverpool University and member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Breakfast he had “rolled up his sleeve” to be part of coronavirus vaccine trials because he had confidence in the science.

When asked if he had felt completely safe to have a jab, he told BBC Breakfast: “Absolutely yes and I have confidence in the science and the people who are doing this.”

GP Dr Sarah Jarvis told the programme that people with suppressed immune systems should still be able to have vaccines because there was very little of the virus in them.

“What we do know is these are not live vaccines and that means that for instance, as with flu, we actively encourage people who had their immune system supressed to come forward for vaccination because there is no greater risk for them,” she said on BBC Breakfast.

“This is not the whole virus you’re getting, it is a little teeny tiny bit of it and therefore it cannot cause an infection and you have even more to gain if you are vulnerable.”

Prof Semple said that it was “surprising” how much cold storage was available for vaccines that needed to be kept at minus 70C or minus 80C (minus 94F to minus 112F).

He also said there was evidence these vaccines could be kept out of cold storage for a short period without damaging their effectiveness.

“There’s good news here as well because along with developing the cold chain for minus 70C or minus 80C freezer system throughout the country, there’s now growing evidence that the last, not quite the last mile, but if you think ‘the last day’ can actually be done at a lower temperature without damaging the vaccine’s effectiveness,” he said.

“But it’s a really surprising fact about how much cold storage there is actually available nationally, and there’s many sources of very low temperature storage capacity.

“We can be quite inventive with this kind of stuff because you can use dry ice facilities, the availability of dry ice is actually quite ubiquitous throughout society.

“There’s a large number of places you can get these products from, from breweries all the way through to specialist plants that produce it for other purposes, so I don’t see that as a problem.”

By PA reporters