Oxford expects to have COVID- 19 vaccine by September after taking the lead in clinical trials

As the world is scrambling to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, Oxford's Jenner Institute is now hoping to make available the first few million doses of the vaccine by September, which is months ahead of projections of when such a vaccine would be ready.

Updated: Apr 28, 2020 13:12 IST

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Hari Aditya

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Tags: World Corona

New Vaccine Expected in September

The New York Times (NYT) reported that although most teams needed to continue with limited clinical trials, scientists at the Jenner Institute needed to be made a successful start in improving the vaccine, having already shown in earlier trials that specific immunization was effective for humans.

As the world is scrambling to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, Oxford's Jenner Institute is now hoping to make available the first few million doses of the vaccine by September, which is months ahead of projections of when such a vaccine would be ready.3

As a result, tests have been scheduled for the COVID-19 vaccine, involving over 6,000 people by May-end, "hoping to show not only that it is safe, but also that it works." With this, the scientists believe that vaccine doses could be ready by September after getting emergency approval from the regulators, as per the article. Last month, researchers at Montana's National Institutes of Health inoculated several rhesus macaque monkeys with small doses of the Oxford vaccine, the report stated. "The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later, all six were healthy," Dr Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test, was quoted as saying.

"The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans," said Dr. Munster, adding that researchers were still examining the result and that it is likely to be shared it with other scientists in the coming week. Thereafter, the results will be sent for a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, citing the initial results from Chinese company SinoVac, the NYT article said that immunity in monkeys will not ensure that a vaccine will provide the same degree of protection for humans. But as things stand, the initial results on monkeys are the latest indication that Oxford is indeed is leading in the vaccine race. Despite the promising start, nothing is clear until the clinical trial data is made available.

The NYT article stated that coronavirus uses a technology that revolves around changing the genetic code of a familiar virus, which is unlike usual methods, where the "vaccine uses a weakened version of a virus to trigger an immune response." "But in the technology that the institute is using, a different virus is modified first to neutralize its effects and then to make it mimic a targeted virus in this case, the virus that causes Covid-19," Dr. Munster said. While the United Kingdom is making progress in curing the virus, its government has cautioned that it will continue to focus on social distancing initiatives until next year if no vaccination or cure is discovered before that. Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the under-trial coronavirus vaccine must be treated as a global public benefit and made available with universal availability. "A COVID-19 vaccine must be considered a global public good. Not a vaccine for one country or one region but a vaccine that is affordable, safe, effective, easily- administered and universally available for everyone, everywhere," Guterres had said.