British scientists are on track to have a groundbreaking coronavirus vaccine by September after 1,000 people have had the injection.
Sir John Bell, regius Professor of medicine at Oxford University where the clinical trials are being carried out, described the progress as “so far, so good” and the vaccine looks “safe.”
Scientists from the university’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group are waiting to see the for signs that the vaccine will protect against the virus.
The scientists have begun rolling the vaccine out across hospital workers to speed up the results.
The researchers have teamed up with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca are hopeful they will be able to produce one million by end of 2020.
Sir John said, “They’ve got over 1,000 people vaccinated in the phase 1-2 project and so far, so good.
“It looks safe and we’re now starting to wait for an efficacy signal to see whether people who’ve been vaccinated don’t get the disease. That’s the next step.”
During the study researchers tested the viral vaccine on monkeys who share similar genes to humans, which worked, and they remained healthy when being given a heavy dose of coronavirus.
The volunteers for the trail were given the CHADOX1 nCoV-19 vaccine, and the rest of the people were given a meningitis jab.
The researchers will compare the number of volunteers who get the virus and will then reveal if the vaccine works.
Sit John told the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, “The disease is on the wane and there is a risk that we won’t have enough active disease to catch people.
“The population that is still at pretty high risk are healthcare workers.
“So, they will be moving, I think already have moved – into the healthcare worker population because there the disease prevalence is about 4%.
“They should be able to get a signal from those individuals we hope.”
Jeffrey Almond, a visiting professor of microbiology at Oxford University, who is not involved in the research, said, “That gives you good encouragement that you might then get protection because that’s what you need to happen.
“You need your immune response to stop the virus getting into your cells, into your body and starting the infection.”
He added: “I think we can be cautiously optimistic about the efforts in the UK, with the Oxford [vaccine] being slightly ahead of pretty much everyone else, even internationally.
“If everything works out, we may have a vaccine towards the end of the year in reasonable amounts.”
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