Photo: Pfizer. US drug company Pfizer has announced that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate is ready to take its final exams in front of the US Food and Drug Administration, but the UK has already approved it.

The UK Secretary of Health says the UK will be ready to roll on the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on December 1st.

“We’re working very closely with the company. We’ll be ready to roll it out as soon as it comes, we’ll be ready from the first of December…, but more likely is that we may be able to start rolling it out before Christmas”. That’s what Matt Hancock told BBC TV recently.

The global coronavirus tally has now surpassed 54 million, while the death toll has reached 1.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The most affected countries are the US (11 million infected, 246,000 deaths), India (8.8 million cases, 129,000 fatalities), and Brazil (5.8 million cases, and over 165,000 deaths).

A number of European countries have introduced lockdowns to curb the second wave of coronavirus, with quarantines imposed in France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Hungary, and Belgium. Italy, Spain, and other countries also introduced severe measures, including regional lockdowns and curfews.

Meanwhile UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has chipped in to say that the vaccine could be in Christmas stocking this year, and declared himself to be “as fit as a butcher’s dog” in spite of a recent re-exposure to Covid-19, from which he had previously recovered.

In other news India has announced Phase III trials for its version of the vaccine.

Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech announced on Monday the start of Phase III trials of the COVAXIN vaccine against COVID-19.

“Bharat Biotech has announced commencement of Phase III trials of COVAXIN today. The Phase III trials will involve 26,000 volunteers across 25 centers in India, being conducted in partnership with ICMR [Indian Council of Medical Research]. It is the largest clinical trial conducted for a COVID-19 vaccine in India,” the company said in a press release.

The trial has been approved by India’s chief agency for drugs control.

According to Bharat Biotech, the volunteers taking part in the Phase III trials will be monitored during a year. The volunteers (all of them should be aged over 18) will receive two injections of the vaccine “approximately 28 days apart.”

Another COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by the pharmaceutical company Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, will begin its phase three clinical trial across the United Kingdom on Monday with 6,000 voluntaries, the UK government announced.

“Global pharmaceutical company Janssen will begin clinical trials of its potential vaccine in the UK from today (Monday 16 November), involving 6,000 volunteers across the country”, the statement said.

The study, which is jointly funded by the UK government, is the third of its kind to enter clinical trials in the UK, together with the vaccine candidates being developed by US biotech company Novavax and University of Oxford/AstraZeneca.

And across the English Channel in France, pharma giant Sanofi said it should have its vaccine on the market by June, 2021, the company’s CEO in France, Olivier Bogillot, told the CNEWS media outlet.

Bogillot confirmed that the results of the ongoing second phase of clinical trials of the Sanofi vaccine are “convincing,” adding that the company is considering the possibility of launching both the third phase of the trials and production of the vaccine in December.

In case the third phase, which is scheduled to end in May, proves inconclusive, Bogillot explained, the company believes it would be able to launch the sales of the doses in June.

Sanofi is one of the world’s largest makers of vaccines.