A UK coronavirus vaccine could be in a few weeks, as Oxford University experts say they are “80% confident” that a new drug will work.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is working on a vaccine with a team at the university, is about to start testing the vaccine, is confident it will work and says he may be ready by September.
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The drug is expected to be tested in a six-month trial of 510 volunteers in the Thames Valley area, with progress so far “surprising”.
Currently, 79,885 people in the UK have been confirmed to be infected with the virus, while the death toll stands at 9,892.
As the nation faces the reality of living for months on end with coronavirus restrictions, a successful vaccine holds the key to ending isolation measures.
Colleague and fellow professor Peter Openshaw, who has advised the government on vaccines and is vice chairman of his advisory group on Nervtag viruses, hopes the vaccine will work and says the signs should become clear very soon.
He told the Telegraph, “We could see a signal very quickly. I sincerely hope that in the coming weeks they will receive a positive signal. “
We were able to see a signal very quickly. I sincerely hope that in the coming weeks they will receive a positive signal.
Professor Peter Openshaw
The professor added that the researchers would not have to wait the usual six months for confirmation.
The trial will split participants into two, one of whom will receive the Oxford vaccine and the other half of whom will receive a “dummy” jab.
If it works as expected, none of those who receive the real vaccine – or very, very few – will develop Covid-19.
Some of those receiving the placebo are expected to be infected and have symptoms.
Professor Openshaw said it was “amazing how Sarah is progressing [Gilbert] has done “so far.
“It is the woman who can deliver a vaccine,” he said.
However, he was quick to point out that the lead researcher for the vaccine was “very methodical” and “was not going to rush [claiming it works] until there is a trial that shows that the vaccine keeps people from getting sick. “
The researchers said, “The best case is that by the fall of 2020, we have the results of the vaccine’s effectiveness from a phase III trial and the ability to manufacture large quantities of vaccine. “
Chinese guidelines on how to manage the virus have already started incorporating the drug, but the NHS has “strongly discouraged” its use as evidence of its effectiveness is limited.
Although Chinese medical authorities have recommended the use of drugs, they have not released supporting data to confirm its effectiveness.
A leading cardiologist in France also claimed that the drug damaged the hearts of 54 coronavirus patients, four of whom died.
Hydroxychloroquine is a synthetic compound created 75 years ago as an alternative to quinine for the treatment of malaria.
It is also used to treat chronic inflammatory diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
A trial of hydroxychloroquine began in the United States on Thursday, under the supervision of the National Institutes of Health.
Donald Trump has publicly approved the drug but has been criticized for the lack of systematic evidence. “
Last weekend, he urged, “What have you got to lose? Take it “.
WhatsApp messages, seen by The Telegraph, of doctors involved in administering the drug at Barts in London imply that the drug will be administered to patients for five days at a time, but fear for its long-term availability.
A Barts spokesperson said, “Barts Health NHS Trust has assembled a clinical panel of experts to study new drugs to treat Covid-19.
“The evidence base is limited for all of these drugs and we are actively recruiting patients for the main clinical trials that have been prioritized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
“These include hydroxychloroquine, kaletra, steroids and remdesivir. “
He added: “For a small number of carefully selected patients, we have recommended new therapies for immediate use, including immunomodulatory drugs such as tocilizumab. “
A spokesperson for the Royal Devon and the Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said that patients would be randomly selected by computer to participate in the hydroxychloroquine trial.
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Currently, there is no vaccine for Covid-19, but doctors around the world are testing current antiviral drugs to see if they can beat the coronavirus.
Scientists said last month that a tuberculosis vaccine given to thousands of British schoolchildren could protect against the coronavirus.
The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) jab was developed a century ago to increase immunity against tuberculosis – a bacterial lung infection.
However, researchers believe the vaccine could protect millions of people from the killer Covid-19 and are expected to launch tests in four countries.
Trials are also underway in England and Scotland on a small number of patients with an anti-viral drug called remdesivir, which was originally developed to treat the drug Ebola.
Similar tests have already been carried out in China and the United States, and results are expected in the coming weeks.
Another Oxford vaccine, known as ChAdOx1, is one of five precursor vaccines in development worldwide.
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