THOUSANDS more volunteers are needed for the latest rounds of clinical trials for a promising coronavirus vaccine.
Researchers say their world- leading jab is “progressing very well” and it is ready to be tested on another 10,260 people.
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About 1,000 healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 55, took part in Oxford University’s phase one trial.
But older adults and children are now being recruited for phases two and three.
The Government has already agreed to buy 100million doses if it works — with 30million delivered by September. Study leader Prof Andrew Pollard said: “The clinical studies are progressing very well.
“We are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population.
“We are very grateful to the huge support of the trial volunteers in helping test whether this new vaccine could protect humans against the pandemic coronavirus.”
Trial participants will receive either a coronavirus or meningitis vaccine and be tracked to see if there is a difference in infection rates. But Prof Pollard warned there are now so few people in the UK with the virus it may take longer for volunteers to be exposed to the bug and for him to get results.
He added: “There is uncertainty about how many cases there will be over the next three months.
“If there are cases, then it is certainly possible by the autumn to have a result, and that is what we are hoping for, but it is not possible to predict.”
AstraZeneca said it has the capacity to manufacture 1billion doses of the vaccine and could begin supply in September.
The pharmaceutical giant has secured contracts for at least 400million doses.
Mene Pangalos, from AstraZeneca, said: “The speed at which this new vaccine has advanced into late-stage clinical trials is testament to Oxford’s ground-breaking scientific research.”
There are more than 100 potential Covid-19 vaccines in development worldwide. They are using a variety of techniques.
Dr Chris Smith, from Cambridge University, stressed that it was important to develop so many at the same time because nine in ten new drugs failed.
He added: “The more irons you have in the fire, the better.”
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