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London hospitals told to be ready to receive AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: media reports

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said vaccinating health workers was not his “central expectation” though he did not rule it out

AstraZeneca - AstraZeneca about to deliver first batches of COVID-19 vaccine to London hospitals: media reports

London hospitals were told to be ready to receive the first batches of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) as early as next week.

A major London hospital trust was also told to put other clinical trials on hold so it could get ready to vaccinate health workers, The Sun revealed on Monday.

READ: The runners in the COVID-19 vaccine race

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said vaccinating health workers was not his “central expectation” though he did not rule it out.

“We want to be ready in case everything goes perfectly but it’s not my central expectation that we will be doing that this year, but the programme is progressing well,” he told the BBC in relation to the reports of deliveries to London hospitals.

“The vaccine programme is progressing well. On my central expectation, I would expect the bulk of the roll-out to be in the first half of next year.”

AstraZeneca could not confirm the reports.

Solid candidate

Last week, a study by Bristol University confirmed the candidate, which is currently in the final stage of clinical trials, builds strong immunity to the virus as hoped.

Researchers looked whether the vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions programmed into it by the Oxford team, providing clarity on how it provokes an immune response.

However, the somewhat positive news did not provide a huge boost to markets on Monday.

“Given Pfizer's proclamation that they will fast-track their vaccine into production in November, there is an element of optimism that is likely to ensure stocks can navigate this second wave of infection better than the first,” commented Josh Mahony, analyst at IG.

“Nevertheless, with haven currencies such as the dollar gaining ground in early trade, there is clearly going to be some caution from traders given the risks ahead.”

AstraZeneca rose 1% to 8,061p on Monday in the early afternoon.

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