LONDON: The production of a million doses of the University of Oxford’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine by September is a possibility depending on how quickly late-stage trials can be completed.
“There might be a million doses manufactured by September: that now seems like a remarkable underestimate, given the scale of what’s going on,” Adrian Hill of University of Oxford said, referring to the manufacturing capability of partner AstraZeneca.
“Certainly there’ll be a million doses around in September. What’s less predictable than the manufacturing scale-up is the incidence of disease, so when there’ll be an endpoint.” He added it was possible that there would be vaccines available by the end of the year.
Earlier, scientists at Oxford University have said their experimental coronavirus vaccine prompted a protective immune response in hundreds of people in early trials. The vaccine did not lead to any serious side effects and elicited antibody and T-cell immune responses, according to trial results published in a medical journal.
The vaccine called AZD1222 is being developed by AstraZeneca and scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of Oxford. In the research, scientists said they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunised.
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“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” Dr Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University told a news agency. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.
Hill said neutralising antibodies are produced – molecules that are key to blocking infection. He said larger trials evaluating the vaccine’s effectiveness, involving about 10,000 people in the UK as well as participants in South Africa and Brazil are still underway. Another trial is slated to start in the US soon aimed at enroling about 30,000 people.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose government has helped to fund the project, hailed the results as “very positive news”. Hill said Oxford has partnered with drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce their vaccine globally and the company has already committed to making two billion doses.
AstraZeneca’s is among the leading vaccine candidates and has signed agreements with governments around the world to supply the vaccine if it proves effective and gains regulatory approval. The company has said it will not seek to profit from the vaccine during the pandemic.