A COVID-19 vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford is safe and induces an immune reaction, according to the published findings from the first phases of a trial.
The team of scientists is led by Irish professor Adrian Hill, who previously worked on Ebola and malaria vaccines.
One of the most high-profile research projects working on a coronavirus vaccine, this latest phase of began back in May, with somewhere in the region of 10,000 people recruited for the human trials.
The findings have been published in the medical journal, The Lancet and represent a positive first step.
However, Professor Sarah Gilbert, from the University of Oxford, who is working on the development of the vaccine, believes that while promising, there is still some way to go.
“‘There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the Covid-19 pandemic, but these early results hold promise,” she said.
“As well as continuing to test our vaccine in phase-three trials, we need to learn more about the virus – for example, we still do not know how strong an immune response we need to provoke to effectively protect against Sars-Cov-2 infection.
“If our vaccine is effective, it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale.
“A successful vaccine against Sars-Cov-2 could be used to prevent infection, disease and death in the whole population, with high-risk populations such as hospital workers and older adults prioritised to receive vaccination.”
— The Lancet (@TheLancet) July 20, 2020
David Carpenter, chairman of the Berkshire Research Ethics Committee, previously stated that the vaccine was "absolutely on track"-- and could even be widely available by as early as September.
Admitting that "nobody can put final dates" as "things might go wrong", Mr Carpenter said "the reality is that by working with a big pharma company, that vaccine could be fairly widely avalailable around September and that is the sort of target they are working on".
If the vaccine works, priority will be given to the most vulnerable, such as the elderly, immunocompromised and healthcare workers.