Scientists at the University of Oxford say they should have at least a million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by September of this year.
They hope to have hundreds of millions of doses to use by the end of 2020.
However, it is still unknown if their jab will work, as the first patients should not participate in their trials until next week.
Most argue that it will take between 12 and 18 months before a vaccine can be widely administered.
What is a coronavirus vaccine?
Vaccines train the immune system to prevent people from developing a disease, such as Covid-19.
If enough people become immune, the coronavirus could not spread so effectively and social distancing would no longer be necessary.
Around 80 groups around the world, including large pharmaceutical companies, are trying to develop a vaccine and some have already started human trials.
This research is taking place at an unprecedented speed – years of work condense into months.
What did Oxford do?
The Oxford University team had prepared for an event like the Covid-19 pandemic before the current global epidemic.
They had already created a genetically modified chimpanzee virus that would form the basis of the new vaccine.
They then combined it with parts of the new coronavirus.
The result is, hopefully, a safe virus that trains the immune system to fight Covid-19.
The big question is whether this experimental vaccine will actually work.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher who developed the vaccine, says she is 80% sure it will work.
“This is my point of view, because I have worked a lot with this technology, and I have worked on trials of the Mers vaccine [another type of coronavirus], and I’ve seen what it can do.
“And, I think, it’s very likely to work. “
When will it be ready?
The team is already putting in place plans to mass-produce the vaccine, before they even know it will work.
“The goal is to have at least a million doses by about September, once you know the results of the vaccine’s effectiveness, and then move around even faster,” said Professor Adrian Hill, who directs the Jenner Institute at Oxford.
“It is pretty clear that the world is going to need hundreds of millions of doses, ideally by the end of this year, to end this pandemic, to get us out of isolation.
He described a million doses as “a fairly modest target” and vaccines as “the exit strategy” for the coronavirus.
When will we know the results?
The researchers hope to know if their vaccine is effective in the coming months.
However, the success of the lockup could prove to be a stumbling block, as if the number of coronavirus cases is decreasing, so it will take longer to know if the vaccine is working.
There are discussions about whether it would be safe to deliberately infect people in order to get answers faster.
There remains the opinion of scientists advising the British government and the World Health Organization that 12-18 months is a more realistic timescale for a vaccine.
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