British top scientist: COVID-19 vaccine “unlikely” before end of 2021

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LONDON: A vaccine against COVID-19 may not be available until the end of next year, a leading UK scientist has warned, despite positive results from research on antibody immunity and the use of steroids against the virus.
“I would obviously be delighted if it came sooner than later, but I would be quite surprised if we had a very effective vaccine ready for mass use in a large percentage of the population before the end of winter, certainly before that. side. Christmas, ”said Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer of England and Senior Adviser to the UK Government.
“I think there is a reasonable chance that we will have vaccines, not a certainty, in the period leading up to the following winter 2021-2022.”
There are over 170 vaccine candidates in development around the world that are officially monitored by the World Health Organization.
The UK is home to two of the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccine trials, one being developed by a team at the University of Oxford in partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, and the other by scientists at Imperial College of London. But despite unprecedented efforts to develop an effective vaccine, Whitty remains cautious.
“A lot of people are doing a lot of things scientifically, logistically to… try to see if we can get a vaccine at an extraordinarily fast rate,” he said.
“But we have to check that it works and we have to make sure that it’s safe, and these things take time,” he added.
“We should plan on the basis that we won’t have a vaccine, and then if one of them proves to be effective, safe and available, we are in a strong position to be able to use it, and that will be great.” , but we should plan on the basis of what we have now.
Whitty, however, has expressed positive opinions on the use of other treatments, such as the steroid Dexamethasone, which significantly reduces death rates in severe cases of COVID-19.
“These studies are ongoing and I hope to see more results like this in the coming months. I have confidence in the ability of science to get us out of this hole, ”he said.
Whitty’s comments came amid news that various international studies on the virus have shown increased levels of natural immunity in people who contract COVID-19.
Scientists in the United States, Sweden and elsewhere have all reported finding strong antibody responses in asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID-19, which could prevent reinfection for months, if not years.
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, hailed the results as “good news”.
But he told the Sunday Times: “My very strong feeling is that we have to maintain a degree of caution and low levels of infection, because at the onset of autumn and winter there are all the chances that we can bounce back. the coronavirus and I think we’re all very scared it’s not over yet.
Professor Sir John Bell, professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, said a vaccine remains essential to address the problem of COVID-19.
He expressed his belief that a second global wave will occur and that “the vaccines will not arrive in time to stop the second wave. “
He agreed, however, that the antibody results are positive. “If many of us have T cell immunity that largely protects us from disease, we may be closer to herd immunity than we thought,” he said.

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