In the race for a vaccine to set the COVID-19 pandemic on its heels, Oxford University is leading the way. Experts have been thrilled with the research being done there, and the Economist predicted that Oxford is “the likeliest candidate to produce the world’s first vaccine against COVID-19.”
On Wednesday, early research shows just how much Oxford has been at work. Researchers there believe they’ve made a major breakthrough, saying trials of their vaccine show signs of providing “double protection” against the novel coronavirus. Blood samples from volunteers showed signs of both antibodies and T-cells that can stave off the virus, which would mean a longterm layer of immunity if tests continue to be promising.
David Carpenter, chairman of the Berkshire Research Ethics Committee, which approved the Oxford trial, told Sky News that the vaccine team was “absolutely on track.”
“Nobody can put final dates,” he cautioned. “Things might go wrong. But the reality is that by working with a big pharma company, that vaccine could be fairly widely available around September and that is the sort of target they are working on.”
The UK government and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca are working together to get the vaccine ready, and are prepared to provide two billion doses worldwide if it works, with first priority being given to the elderly and healthcare professionals. It’s all being spearheaded by Sarah Gilbert, who’s become something of a celebrity in the UK for her calm, reasoned expertise and her team’s gold standard-setting results. She’s convinced AstraZeneca to sell the vaccines at a not-for-profit price and has crammed a process that usually takes five years into less than four months.
Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Dr. Faheem Younus was enthused by the results, saying “this is not false hope.”
Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine could be here by Oct!
Phase 3 testing in 1000s of humans
Projected to be 80% effective in preventing severe disease
Pledged to produce 2 billion doses THIS YEAR!
— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) July 16, 2020