Sat | Jun 6, 2020

UK to start huge virus vaccine test

Published:Friday | May 22, 2020 | 12:29 PM
Contributed photo

LONDON (AP) — British researchers testing an experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus are moving into advanced studies and aim to immunise more than 10,000 people to determine if the shot works.

Friday’s announcement came as Chinese scientists who are developing a similar vaccine reported promising results from their own first-step testing, seeing hoped-for immune reactions and no serious side effects in 108 vaccinated people.

Last month, Oxford University researchers began vaccinating more than 1,000 volunteers in a preliminary study designed to test the shot’s safety.

Those results aren’t in yet but the Oxford team announced they’re expanding to 10,260 people across Britain, including older people and children.

If all goes smoothly, “it’s possible as early as the autumn or toward the end of the year, you could have results that allowed use of the vaccine on a wider scale,” predicted Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group.

But Pollard acknowledged there were still many challenges ahead, including how long it will take to prove the vaccine works — particularly since transmission has dropped significantly in Britain — and any potential manufacturing complications.

The Oxford shot is one of about a dozen experimental COVID-19 vaccines in early stages of human testing or poised to start, mostly in China, the US and Europe.

Scientists have never created vaccines from scratch this fast and it’s far from clear that any will ultimately prove safe and effective.

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