The Oxford University coronavirus vaccine could be ready to be put before public health regulators “by the end of the year”, experts have said.
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the groundbreaking human trial may have gathered enough clinical and efficacy data to be deemed safe for widescale use.
The announcement comes after England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said a vaccine could not become available until at least next winter.
Commenting on the vaccine, Professor Pollard said: “It could take as long as that to first of all demonstrate a vaccine works and is safe and then to go through the processes of regulators looking at that very carefully to make sure everything’s been done correctly.
“But it is also just possible that, if the cases accrue rapidly in the clinical trials, that we could have that data to put before regulators this year, and then there would be a process that they go through in order to make a full assessment of the data.”
The vaccine, which is being developed in partnership with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is defined as a “viral vector vaccine”. This means it uses a different type of virus as a vessel for Covid-19 genetic data, which has been modified so that it does not reproduce in humans.
The vaccine is injected into the body, causing a mild cold, triggering an immune response to fight off the virus. This whole process trains the immune system to fight off the real virus should the person contract Covid-19.
Trials so far involving more than 1,000 healthy adult volunteers suggest that the vaccine is safe and generates a strong immune response with no serious side effects.
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