The British government announced Friday plans to fast-track any viable COVID-19 vaccine, allowing the emergency use of the drug before it goes through the formal licensing process, if it meets certain safety and quality standards.
In a statement the British government, said if a viable vaccine is discovered before the end of the year, the proposals will bolster existing powers that allow the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to consider approving its use, before a full product license is granted, provided it is proven to be safe and effective.
The measures are necessary because during the transition period, a new potential COVID-19 vaccine must be granted a license after a review by the European Medicines Agency a process than can often take months.
Britain’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said in the statement, "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 new guidelines also call for expanding the number of trained health care workers who can administer any potential COVID-19 vaccines as well as flu vaccines.
The government said a three-week “consultation” is being launched immediately for health experts and key stakeholder groups to consider the new proposals. If approved they could be in place as early as October.
Britain has had the worst COVID-19 death toll of any European country.