Covid vaccine could be made available in pill form

·2 min read
The Government is looking at ways to scale up the vaccine rollout - PA
The Government is looking at ways to scale up the vaccine rollout - PA

Coronavirus vaccines could eventually be administered in the form of a pill, Nadhim Zahawi has suggested.

The vaccines minister said that injections may not be the sole option for receiving dosages in future but that ensuring a healthy capacity of supplies remained the priority for the Government.

Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Zahawi said: "There are technologies with pills and others being developed around the world and we will continue to look at those.

"But we're making sure the UK will always have the capability and capacity to manufacture the variant vaccines that will deal with any variant virus.”

Asked about a slowdown for first jabs when second jabs are rolled out, Mr Zahawi said: "We've got the capacity to do first and second jabs. The limiting factor is the supply of vaccines.”

Receiving a vaccine jab via a pill could help alleviate supply issues that have hindered the rollout in some areas of the world including Europe.

Last month, a British biotech breakthrough signalled the possibility of turning injected vaccines into tablets as clinical trials in monkeys showed the oral vaccine to be highly effective in immunising them from the virus.

Sussex-based IoBio and California’s ImmunityBio are applying for regulatory approval to run tests in Britain as clinical trials of the pill began on Americans in January.

Chief executive of iosBio, Wayne Channon, said: "With our capsule you wouldn’t need medical professionals to administer the vaccine, you could send this out on Amazon Prime and have everyone vaccinated by Saturday.”

Other experts have said that new ways of administering the vaccine are needed.

Kate Bingham, the former chair of the UK vaccine taskforce, said the process needed to be sped up, suggesting that people should be allowed to self-administer pills, nasal sprays and patches.

Speaking last month to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Ms Bingham said: "We need to improve the vaccine formats because, frankly, two injections delivered by healthcare professionals is not a good way of delivering vaccines.

"We need to get vaccine formats which are much more scalable and distributable, so, whether they are pills or patches or nose sprays, we need to find better ways of developing and delivering vaccines, and we'll do that in collaboration, just as we've been doing that over the last few months."