Hopes of eliminating the coronavirus were raised today after leading British experts revealed trials of a vaccine would begin on humans next week.
Oxford University scientists are confident they can get jab for the incurable disease rolled out for millions to use by autumn.
Tests of the experimental jab on different animals have shown promise – and the next step is to use it on humans to prove it is safe.
The Oxford team are one of hundreds worldwide racing to develop a COVID-19 jab, which experts fear could take 18 months.
More than 70 vaccines are currently in development, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Oxford’s vaccine programme has already recruited 510 people, aged between 18 and 55, to take part in the first trial.
They will receive either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine – which has been developed in Oxford – or a control injection for comparison.
Professor Adrian Hill, who will lead the research, speaking to the BBC World Service said:
‘We are going into human trials next week. We have tested the vaccine in several different animal species.
‘We have taken a fairly cautious approach, but a rapid one to assess the vaccine that we are developing.’
‘We’re a university, we have a very small in house manufacturing facility that can do dozens of doses. That’s not good enough to supply the world, obviously.
‘We are working with manufacturing organisations and paying them to start the process now.
‘So by the time July, August, September comes – whenever this is looking good – we should have the vaccine to start deploying under emergency use recommendations.
‘That’s a different approval process to commercial supply, which often takes many more years.’
‘There is no point in making a vaccine that you can’t scale up and may only get 100,000 doses for after a huge amount of investment.
‘You need a technology that allows you to make not millions but ideally billions of doses over a year.’
The Oxford team last week announced hopes to have the vaccine ready for autumn, saying they were ’80 per cent’ confident it would work. (H/T WHO)