Irish scientist behind Oxford University vaccine says life could return to normal by late spring

Irish scientist behind Oxford University vaccine says life could return to normal by late spring

LIFE IN Ireland and around much of the world could return to normal by late spring according to the Irish scientist heading up work on a coronavirus vaccine at Oxford University.

Professor Adrian Hill previously made his name working on a series of vaccines designed to tackle viruses like Ebola and Malaria.

Over the past few months, he has been at the forefront of the work being doing by scientists at the Jenner Institute in Oxford in conjunction with AstraZeneca to combat Covid-19.

Last week, researchers at the University of Oxford published preliminary data showing the vaccine they have been working on is up to 90% effective – making it statistically more effective than the average yearly flu vaccine.

The research findings indicate the vaccine was particularly effective in older age groups, who rank among the most vulnerable when it comes to serious strains of the coronavirus.

Over three billion doses of the vaccine developed by Professor Hill have been pre-ordered worldwide while vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are also set to be available soon, subject to regulatory approval.

In the coming months the Irish Government is set to roll out one million vaccine doses to the country’s most vulnerable, beginning in January 2021.

And Professor Hill, who is originally from Ranelagh in south Dublin, is confident life could return to normal by late spring or early sumer.

He told RTÉ Radio 1’s Miriam O’Callaghan: “The truth is, it’s a very safe vaccine that can be manufactured at a scale that no other vaccine is trying to reach, and it is impressively effective.

“So, we’re looking forward to getting on with this and making it available as soon as we can.

“We’ll see something approaching normality hopefully by late spring or early summer.”

While a recent survey from the Irish Pharmacy Union found just 51% of the Irish population would be interested in taking a vaccine, with 24% preferring to wait before getting the jab, Professor Hill believes those numbers are likely to change once the vaccine becomes available.

He said: “I don’t think we’ll ever vaccinate the whole population with anything because people should be free to decide whether to have the vaccine or not.

“But I think we’ll all be a bit surprised by the number of people who do want to be vaccinated when this vaccine is widely available.

“And we’ve taken that into account in estimating what number of doses we will need.”