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Human Trials for COVID-19 Vaccine to Begin in the UK

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed at the University of Oxford will commence on Thursday, April 23. If successful, this vaccine could be available in millions of doses by autumn.

Key Points:

The University of Oxford’s research team, led by Professor Sarah Gilbert, believes that large-scale vaccine production could begin as early as September.

The government has pledged £20 million for the clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine and an additional £22.5 million for researchers at Imperial College London.

While these developments are promising, Professor Andrew Pollard from the Oxford team emphasizes that there are significant technical challenges in scaling up vaccine production to meet global demand.

The Oxford project has benefited from prior research on coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, providing a head start in vaccine development.

It is important to note that the success of the Oxford trial is not guaranteed, and vaccine development typically involves trial and error. The World Health Organization’s envoy on COVID-19, Professor David Nabarro, has also cautioned that a safe and effective vaccine may not be attainable, and humanity may need to adapt to living with the virus as a persistent threat.

Hancock emphasized that the public should not become complacent regarding social distancing measures and that the lockdown should continue as scheduled until May 7 to protect public health.

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