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UK to give emergency approval to any Covid vaccine breakthrough

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Any new and effective Covid vaccine will be given emergency approval for use in the UK and an expanded workforce will be trained to give the injections to immunise as much of the population as possible quickly, the government has said.

A change in the law will allow the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to grant temporary approval for a vaccine from October, before it has been given a licence by the European authorities, which would be the normal procedure. The UK will be out of the EU from January and will approve drugs and vaccines without Brussels’ involvement.

Ministers say there will be no shortcut on safety or effectiveness, and that any vaccine will be approved for the UK only if it meets the highest standards.

The deputy chief medical officer for England, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, said: “We are making progress in developing COVID-19 vaccines, which we hope will be important in saving lives, protecting healthcare workers and returning to normal in future.

“If we develop effective vaccines, it’s important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible but only once strict safety standards have been met. The proposals consulted on today suggest ways to improve access and ensure as many people are protected from Covid-19 and flu as possible without sacrificing the absolute need to ensure that any vaccine used is both safe and effective.”

The MHRA has the power to grant an unlicensed medicine or a vaccine temporary authorisation where a product is proven safe and effective and in the best interest of the patient on the basis of available evidence.

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Source: The Guardian, 28 August 2020

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