A COVID-19 vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford could be ready in a matter of months, according to the Irish scientist heading up the research.
Professor Adrian Hill, who previously worked on vaccines for Ebola and malaria, is leading a team of scientists in the UK who had been developing a drug to fight off the virus.
Initial trials have shown that the vaccine is safe to use and, crucially, induces an immune reaction, according to findings published in the Lancet this week.
Speaking on Prime Time, Professor Hill said that, all being well with the trials, the vaccine could be ready in two to three months' time.
He said: “At a guess and it is a guess, maybe October, maybe September, could be a little earlier, could be later than that.
“We genuinely don’t know because we don’t know how many cases are occurring in the trial population and how many will occur over the next few months.”
Professor Hill told Prime Time his team had witnessed a “very strong immune response” among those the vaccine was administered to.
He noted that they were also “encouraged” by the fact the drug drew a response on both sides of the immune system, explaining that “not all that many vaccines do so”.
The trial saw some 10,000 volunteers given the vaccine while others were given a control vaccine.
Scientists then measured which people contracted Covid-19 and those that didn’t.
The hope was that they would record a lower number of infections among those who were vaccinated.
Professor Hill noted: “Once a difference emerges and becomes statistically significant, an independent group of statisticians looking at the data will stop the trial and announce it to us and then everybody else.
“The problem is that they don’t know, we don’t know how quickly that’s going to happen.
“if the vaccine works extremely well, it will be sooner, if the vaccine gives 50 per cent efficacy then it will be a bit longer,” he added.
With cases continuing to decrease in the UK, the Oxford University researchers have begun conducted further trials in places like Brazil and South Africa where transmission remains high.