Britain could have to wait longer for a coronavirus vaccine because of Brexit , experts have warned.
Senior academics, writing in the Guardian, said Boris Johnson’s decision to leave the European Medicines agency – which is in charge of monitoring the safety of medicines – could slow the process down.
Leaving the EU’s regulatory regime means we will no longer have the benefit of “accelerated assessment” of new drugs, the authors argue.
The experts behind the article include Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and legal academics Anniek de Ruijter of Amsterdam Law School and Mark Flear of Queens University, Belfast.
They wrote: “For all these reasons … the UK is likely to have to join the queue for access with other countries outside the EU, and to pay more than it would otherwise as an EU member state.
“Looking further ahead, this problem will not be limited to emergencies and the UK can expect slower and more limited access to medicines, especially those for rare conditions or those used to treat children, where the market is small.”
Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport told Sky News the country is several months away from a vaccine.
He said: “Vaccines are being developed at a very fast rate so there are a number of candidates: large companies, small companies, universities all working.
“The challenge here is to make sure the vaccine is safe and it works, and unfortunately, that takes a period of time to do so realistically.
“It’s very unlikely that we are going to have a vaccine for the present round of this epidemic.
“We are talking months, up to a year.”
Sir Mark added it was “quite likely” that a large percentage of the population would get coronavirus, but many would be mild or sub-clinical.
Meanwhile, a team of scientists say a vaccine for the Covid-19 illness is on the verge of being developed.
Researchers, led by Mucosal Infection and Immunity head Dr Robin Shattock, told the Daily Express they have successfully trialled the vaccine in mice and are hopeful it could be ready for human trials by June.
Senior researcher Dr Paul McKay, of Imperial College London, told the paper: “I’ve got results from a month after I injected (the mice) and the vaccine works really, really well.”
The team is working with scientists in Paris to determine the vaccine’s effectiveness in monkeys.
Dr McKay said they have applied for further funding from the Medical Research Council to conduct human clinical trials.