COVID vaccine launch in 2020 possible? Lead developer hints so

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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COVID-19 Vaccine
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Sarah Catherine Gilbert, a British vaccinologist and lead developer of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate has suggested that their vaccine could be rolled out by the end of the year but there is no certainty. 

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The experimental vaccine, which has been licensed to British-Swedish multinational pharma firm AstraZeneca, produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials according to the data revealed by the team igniting hopes of its availability by the end of 2020.

“The end of the year target for getting vaccine roll-out, it’s a possibility but there’s absolutely no certainty about that because we need three things to happen,” Ms. Sarah Gilbert told British National Radio, BBC

The lead developer suggested that the vaccine needed to be shown to work in late-stage trials with assurances on the production of large quantities along with the support of regulators who have to agree quickly to license it for emergency use before large numbers of people could be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and his deputy Jonathan Van-Tam took differing views on the potential timeline.

“The chance of us getting a vaccine before Christmas that actually are highly effective is, in my view, very low,” Whitty spoke on the British Parliament

Van-Tam, however, said he was “cautiously optimistic that we will have some vaccine this side of Christmas.”

The Oxford scientists had eyed a million doses of the potential vaccine to be produced by September. Although the deal with AstraZeneca has presented manufacturing capacity to do that, the lower cases of the novel coronavirus in Britain have hampered the process of exhibiting its effectiveness.

Late-stage trials that are crucial for providing data are underway in Brazil and South Africa with the USA joining in the trails soon. Currently, there are no licensed vaccines yet for COVID-19, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated AstraZeneca’s effort is one of the leading candidates.