BMA: Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough brings widespread protection a step closer

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BMA encouraged by vaccine ‘breakthrough’ which brings ‘widespread protection a step closer’

Responding to the news that the Pfizer phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial was found to be 90% effective, BMA public health medicine committee co-chair Dr Penelope Toff said:

“Having a reliable vaccine is by the far the most effective way of tackling the virus and will ensure that we can protect the most vulnerable as well as alleviating pressure on the health service and easing economic and societal restrictions.

“There are of course still many important factors to understand before this can be safely distributed among the public, especially to those in the most vulnerable groups. We look forward to seeing more data on the safety and efficacy, including review by the JCVI and MHRA.

“While this is hopeful news, we must not forget that the reality on the ground now is that NHS staff are being pushed to their limits. It remains absolutely crucial that we all continue to follow the current guidance, particularly on not mixing with other households and that we all keep to the practices we know work best for infection control.”

GPs and their teams know how vital a safe, effective vaccine will be in defeating Covid-19, and we are all encouraged by this breakthrough – which brings widespread protection a step closer. With their proven track record of mass immunization campaigns and strong relationships within their communities, GPs, practice nurses and other key staff are the right people to be leading this campaign once vaccines become available. With a number of approval processes still to go, we are a long way from guaranteeing that vaccinations in local surgeries will begin in December – but practices, working together in their areas, will stand ready. We know this will be a significantly challenging undertaking, particularly as staff are already struggling with ever-increasing workloads and staff burnout from the first wave of the pandemic. Therefore, practices will need support both nationally and locally, as well as patience and understanding from the public as they embark on this unprecedented campaign. As they often do, practices will step up to the challenge, but now need reassurance and details from NHS England as soon as possible around the program so they have plenty of time to prepare for an intense few months ahead.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee England chair


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