Scientists working on the Oxford University vaccine have said they could know within six weeks whether it will work.
Since the virus first emerged in January around 170 vaccine candidates are now in development across the globe, with 15 already in human trials and four, in particular, leading the vaccine race (as reported by OGN last week).
One of the four leaders was Oxford University, where scientists believe they have made a breakthrough in their quest for a Covid-19 vaccine after discovering that the jab triggers a response that may offer a "double defence" against the virus, reports The Telegraph.
The full results showed that initial trials on 1,077 British adults found that the vaccine induced strong antibody and T-cell responses, which may improve further after a booster jab. The discovery is especially good news because separate studies have suggested that antibodies may fade away within months while T-cells can stay in circulation for years.
The trials found that there were no serious adverse events, and minor side effects could be controlled by paracetamol, two papers in The Lancet reported. Experts hailed the results as a "really important milestone" which kept alive the hope of a vaccine being rolled out before Christmas.
The eyes of the nation - and perhaps the world - are firmly upon Professor Adrian Hill and his team at Oxford University.
In May, the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (partnering with Oxford) announced a $1.2 billion deal with the US government to produce 400 million doses of the unproven coronavirus vaccine first produced in Prof Hill's Oxford lab.
On June 13, AstraZeneca signed a contract with European governments to supply up to 400 million doses of the vaccine. Meanwhile, the British Government has agreed to pay for up to 100 million doses, adding that 30 million may be ready for UK citizens by September.
The stakes could hardly be higher. If proven effective, the ZD1222 vaccine would allow people to leave their homes, go back to work, and rebuild the economy. Scientists working on the vaccine have said they could know within six weeks whether it will work.
Meanwhile, the UK’s first dedicated vaccine-making facility is building capacity to produce “tens of millions” of doses to guard against coronavirus, and the first coronavirus antibody test has been approved by Public Health England.
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Virus: Reasons to be Optimistic: 5 reasons why the coronavirus nightmare may soon be over. From vaccine triumphs to leadership learning curves, we can finally dare to hope for a breakthrough. So says Matt Ridley in The Telegraph.