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Coronavirus vaccine could be ready in September, scientist says

A vaccine for COVID-19 could be ready as soon as September, according to a professor from Oxford University.

Sarah Gilbert is a professor of vaccinology and says that she is “80% confident” a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by her team will work.

Her team at Oxford is part of a global effort to find a vaccine for coronavirus which has killed more than 100,000 people around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Professor Sarah Gilbert believes a vaccine could be ready by September. Pic: University of Oxford
Image: Professor Sarah Gilbert believes a vaccine could be ready by September. Pic: University of Oxford

Professor Gilbert has said that human trials are set to take place within the next fortnight, and that she has been working seven days a week to get a vaccine rushed through.

She told The Times newspaper: “I think there’s a high chance that it will work based on other things that we have done with this type of vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Pharmaceuticals Paul Stoffels attends a news conference at Actelion headquarters in Allschwil, Switzerland January 26, 2017
March: ‘We’re aiming for a billion COVID-19 vaccines’

“It’s not just a hunch and as every week goes by we have more data to look at. I would go for 80%, that’s my personal view.”

She added that having something ready by the autumn is “just about possible if everything goes perfectly”, but warned that “nobody can promise it’s going to work”.

More from Covid-19

The lockdown in the UK could make it more difficult to test the vaccine, as human contact is low, so researchers will have to conduct trials somewhere with a higher rate of transmission, to get a quicker result.

Earlier in the week, researchers at Southampton University said they had discovered that the virus has “low shielding”, meaning a vaccine could be easier to develop.

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The UK is at the forefront of vaccine funding, and pumped £210m into an international fund last month – the biggest contribution at the time for a vaccine.

The government has also said that it would be willing to buy millions of doses, should trials prove successful.

However, despite the optimism from Oxford, other vaccine developers have said it could be up to a year before something is ready to distribute.

Ministers have been under pressure to explain details of the government’s exit-strategy from the ongoing lockdown, but scientists say that it is too early to consider removing the widespread restrictions while the number of dead still rises.

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