The COVID-19 coronavirus global toll has hit another tragic landmark, approaching 100,000 deaths from the virus, as the world is waiting to see the first concrete results from multi-country teams working to get a vaccine ready to be used.
To that end, British scientists gave new hope over the weekend that a finished product is coming early, and maybe even sooner than even the most optimistic experts expected it will. Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinology professor at Oxford University, told The Times of London that she’s heading the team of scientists, one of thousands around the world working to produce a vaccine — may have one ready as early as September. At this point, she’s 80% confident that the vaccine will be successful.
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On its part, the British Government is watching this closely and has already made it clear that it will provide support on millions of doses in advance if this procedure continues to succeed. This way, the vaccine will automatically be available to millions of people once it’s ready. And that’s also critical, as it may take months to manufacture the vaccine doses on a scale, which is why significant advance research is required.
“That is just about possible if everything goes perfectly,” Gilbert told the newspaper, further stating that human trials are starting in two weeks. “We have to go for that. Nobody can give any guarantees, nobody can promise it’s going to work and nobody can give you a definite date, but we have to do all we can as fast as we can.”
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Getting a vaccine that quickly would be welcome news particularly in Britain, which is about to start its fourth week under lockdown. Nearly 10,000 people have died from coronavirus in the UK to date, and the country’s chief scientific expert, Patrick Vallance, has warned that the number of deaths will continue to rise for at least a few more weeks.
“We are going to need to do studies in different countries because the amount of virus transmission is affected by the lockdowns,” Gilbert said. “Total lockdowns do make it harder. But we don’t want the herd immunity either. We want them to be susceptible and exposed to the trials purely to test the efficacy. It’s a question of timing, it’s not easy to predict which continents or countries will be the best places to test.”