U.K. ‘Likely to Have Coronavirus Vaccine by Early 2021’

Photo taken on Sept. 1, 2020 shows a general view of Houses of Parliament as the House of Commons returns from summer recess, in London, Britain. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua)

LONDON (Xinhua) — British Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday claimed a coronavirus vaccine is “most likely” to be ready in the first few months of 2021, if it gets approved.

Hancock said it was “looking up” that the vaccine being developed by experts at the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca would be granted approval for use soon after trials in several countries, including Britain, the United States and Brazil, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.

His statement came at a time when countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are engaged in a race against time to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

The manufacturing of doses was already starting, Hancock said, so that it could be “rolled out” across the country when given the all-clear.

A vaccine would be a game-changer in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, giving vital protection particularly to the elderly and other vulnerable people, though it could take many months to roll out across the population, said the newspaper.

Britain may also be facing difficult months this autumn and winter because COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are expected to rise, though doctors have significantly improved care, raising hopes that the death rate will be far lower.