Thursday, 4 Jun 2020

First coronavirus vaccine could be ready by autumn, scientists say – The Sun

THE UK's first coronavirus vaccine could be ready by autumn, scientists say.

Oxford University researchers are are working round the clock to develop a Covid-19 jab to boost the patient’s immune system to help them fight off the deadly virus.

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And the “best case scenario” suggests scientists are aiming for the vaccine to be available by the autumn of 2020.

This is much quicker than the 12 to 18-month wait for a jab that Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, has predicted.

Despite this, the Oxford team, one of many working to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, warned that it was still trying to source funding for manufacturing the potential drug.

The Oxford trial, a collaboration between the University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group clinical teams, has recruited more than 500 volunteers aged between 18 and 55 who will begin the tests this month following an “overwhelming” response.

Asked about the timescale for a potential roll-out, if successful, the researchers told The Telegraph: “The best-case scenario is that by the autumn of 2020 we have the results about the effectiveness of the vaccine from a phase III trial and the ability to manufacture large amounts of the vaccine.”

However, they admitted that their “best-case timeframes” were “highly ambitious” and subject to change.

They added: “We are currently trying to source additional funding for the scale-up of vaccine manufacturing to produce enough doses for deployment.”

Participants will remain in the trial for six months, attending appointments at the Oxford Vaccine Centre for screening, vaccination with either the new coronavirus vaccine or a control injection, and blood tests.

The team admitted that the studies will be "challenging", if the peak of disease transmission arrives before the vaccine is ready for trials.

They said: “If virus transmission has stopped, then it is impossible to assess whether the vaccine can prevent disease.

“At the moment it is not possible to identify who has already been infected, and if the virus is spreading quickly throughout the population it might be difficult to find unexposed people to take part in the trial."

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The scientists added that conducting trials after the peak subsides will be problematic because "so many people will have developed a natural immunity by then and the amount of transmission will have dropped" so that those who are still not immune will take longer to be exposed to the virus.”

Currently there is no vaccine for Covid-19 and people with mild symptoms are being told to stay at home, keep hydrated and take paracetamol to help ease their condition.

Last week, scientists claimed an anti-tuberculous vaccine that was given to thousands of British schoolchildren could protect against coronavirus.

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) jab was developed a century ago to increase immunity to TB — a bacterial lung infection.

However, researchers believe the vaccine could protect millions against killer Covid-19 and are set to roll out tests across four countries.

Doctors are also testing current anti-viral drugs to see if they beat coronavirus.

Trials are taking place in England and Scotland on a small number of patients with an anti-viral called remdesivir, which was originally developed to treat Ebola drug.

Similar trials have already been carried out in China and the US, and results are expected in the next few weeks.

Scientists were also hopeful that a pair of HIV drugs known as lopinavir and ritonavir would be effective in treating Covid-19 but the trial data is disappointing.

They did not improve recovery, reduce deaths or lower levels of the coronavirus in patients with serious Covid-19.

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Despite this, as the trial was carried out with extremely sick patients (nearly a quarter died) it may have been too late in the infection for the drugs to work.

Studies are also taking place on an anti-malarial drug called chloroquine and lab tests have shown it can kill the virus.

However, the World Health Organization says there is no definitive evidence of its effectiveness.

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