Oxford scientists say COVID-19 vaccine could be available by as early as September
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Oxford scientists say COVID-19 vaccine could be available by as early as September

THE VACCINE being developed by scientists from Oxford University could be widely available by as early as September. 

Professor Adrian Hill, an Irish scientist who has previously worked on Ebola and malaria vaccines, is heading up their vaccine efforts, which are already at an advanced stage. 

Human trials are already underway for the vaccine, which is one of several already making progress. 

The fact that the Oxford University lab had already worked on inoculations for several other viruses, including one noticeably similar to COVID-19, gave them a significant technological advantage in the race to find a treatment. 

Their efforts have been boosted further by the results of a test on rhesus macaque monkeys. 

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A species thought to share some notable similarities to mankind, the tests saw monkeys given the experimental vaccine and then exposed to heavy quantities of COVID-19. 

All are said to have come through the experiment unscathed. 

Now the plan is to conduct human trials with 550 participants given the vaccine and 550 the placebo. 

Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, is optimistic to say the least. 

"Well personally, I have a high degree of confidence about this vaccine, because it's technology that I've used before," she told CBS. 

Professor Hill has also spoken in glowing terms about the work of his team.

“The Oxford team had exceptional experience of a rapid vaccine response, such as to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. This is an even greater challenge," he said back in March.

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“Vaccines are being designed from scratch and progressed at an unprecedented rate. The upcoming trial will be critical for assessing the feasibility of vaccination against COVID-19 and could lead to early deployment.

“We’ll have to chase the epidemic,” Professor Hill said. “If it is still raging in certain states, it is not inconceivable we end up testing in the United States in November.”

The vaccine takes the genetic material of the coronavirus and injects it into a common cold virus that has been neutralised so it is not able to spread to others. 

This modified virus then mimics COVID-19, in the process triggering the immune system and working to fight off the imposter and provide essential protection against the real virus. 

One of the world’s largest drug manufacturers in India is planning to begin producing millions of vials of the Oxford University’s vaccines from next month – before they are even proven to work – in the hope of getting out to the wider public in record time. 

The team at the forefront of research into a vaccine, Professor Hill and his fellow researchers are refusing to licence their findings to any drug company.

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"I personally don’t believe that in a time of pandemic there should be exclusive licenses," Professor Hill said.

"So we are asking a lot of them. Nobody is going to make a lot of money off this."