The researchers at the prestigious varsity are confident they can roll out a jab for the incurable disease within the next eight months. This “best case scenario” is much sooner than was previously touted. Britain’s chief scientific adviser said it would be at least 2021 until a vaccine was ready.
But the Oxford team, one of hundreds worldwide racing to develop a COVID-19 cure, warned it will be “challenging” if the outbreak peaks before a jab is ready for trials. With no tests available to identify who has already been infected it could be difficult to find unexposed people to take part in the trial, the researchers say.
The researchers said: ‘The best-case scenario is that by the autumn of 2020 we have the results about the effectiveness of the vaccine from a phase three trial and the ability to manufacture large amounts of the vaccine.” They admitted that this time frame was “highly ambitious” many things could get in the way of that target.
“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. Conducting trials after the peak subsides presents another problem, 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.”