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A vaccine for Covid-19 could be ready by the end of summer

A vaccine for Covid-19 could be ready by the end of summer

Scientists at the University of Oxford have said they expect to produce a million doses of their experimental vaccine as early as September; months ahead of the official 12- to 18-month timeline quoted by experts around the world. On Friday the team at the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group said they were recruiting volunteers for

Scientists at the University of Oxford have said they expect to produce a million doses of their experimental vaccine as early as September; months ahead of the official 12- to 18-month timeline quoted by experts around the world.

On Friday the team at the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group said they were recruiting volunteers for early stage – phase one – human trials, and large-scale production capacity was being put in place “at risk”. 

This means the shots will be produced in large numbers at risk of being useless if trials show they do not work.

While the World Health Organization and Britain’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance have repeatedly said a safe vaccine is at least  12 to 18 months away, the Oxford team are expected to produce a vaccine candidate by late summer.

“The aim is to have about a million doses by September once we have the results of our vaccine efficacy tests,” said Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford. 

“Then we’ll move even faster from there, because it’s pretty clear that the world is going to need 100s of millions of doses ideally by the end of the year to end this pandemic and let us out of lockdown safely.”

The Oxford University team’s experimental product, called “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19”, is a type of immunisation known as a recombinant viral vector vaccine and is just one of at least 70 potential Covid-19 candidate shots under development by biotech and research teams around the world.

The vaccine was chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for the virus as it can generate a strong immune response from one dose, said the team.

When asked how they managed to move the usually lengthy process of vaccine approval along so quickly, Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the study, said it was their ongoing research into Disease X – an as yet unknown infectious agent earmarked as a potential pandemic in the making – which allowed them to pivot so quickly to Covid-19.

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