They said yesterday they would test their jab against the Oxford/AstraZeneca one in a global study of around 4,000 people. They hope to supply it through the World Health Organisation’s Covax scheme, which aims to ensure equitable distribution in lower-income countries. If trials are successful and regulators give the green light, it could be available in the first half of 2022.
Thomas Breuer, chief global health officer at GSK, said: “There remains a need for accessible and affordable Covid-19 vaccines to protect people across the world.”
Some 32,181 cases were reported across the UK yesterday, along with 50 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Meanwhile, an expert has called for booster doses to begin soon in the UK for the over-80s and other vulnerable groups.
Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said a wider campaign may not be needed as vaccines are still effective at warding off serious disease.
But he said people who had not reacted well to the first doses will need boosters soon.
He said: “Within that category are: people with severe underlying disease, people with severe cancers that are on chemotherapy, people on high-dose steroids for autoimmune diseases, people who have had solid organ transplants, people who are morbidly obese.
“I would also add over-80s to that category.”
Prof Hunter added: “These people won’t have responded that well to vaccine.
“They should be boosted and they should be boosted pretty soon.” His comments came as experts from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) prepared to make a final decision about the booster campaign.
Prof Hunter said the UK was getting close to reaching “epidemic equilibrium”, at which point we might see an average of 45,000 infections per day.
He said it was likely the majority of cases would eventually be asymptomatic, adding: “We won’t see Covid ‘the disease’ any more after a few years. Typically pandemics tend to last for about three years. And the last big coronavirus pandemic lasted three years – that was in 1890, with the Russian flu.
“The virus that caused the Russian flu is still with us, and it’s still not that different probably from the virus that circulated 130 years ago, but we don’t see it causing the disease.
“Covid-19 the disease will almost certainly be consigned to history except in very few occasional cases.”
The further 50 deaths yesterday brings the UK total to 132,535. Meanwhile, 90,838,594 jabs were administered, 48,048,009 were first doses, a rise of 19,643 on the previous day.