LONDON – The results of a future trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca could be released this year as the British government prepares for a possible vaccination in late December or early 2021.
The vaccine is seen as a game changer in the war against coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide, shutting down the world’s economy and reversing the normal life of billions of people.
More than 200 people are running for office and Oxford vaccine has been licensed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca AZN.L as a top athlete.
“I hope we can reach that point by the end of this year,” Oxford Vaccine Trial Chief Investigator Andrew Pollard said of the chances of bringing the case to trial.
Pollard told British authorities that finding out whether the vaccine was effective could not come this year, after which the details would have to be carefully reviewed by regulators and a political decision as to who should get it.
“A few of us – we’re getting closer but we’re not there yet,” said Pollard, director of Oxford Vaccine Group.
Asked if he had expected the vaccine to begin distribution before Christmas, he said: “There is little chance that that will happen but I just don’t know.”
The National Health Service (NHS) in England is preparing to start distributing the potential COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas if one is ready for the end of the year.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be the first from a major pharma to be approved for legal approval, along with Pfizer PFE.N and BioNTech’s 22UAy.F.
“If I add my rose-tinted specs, I hope we will see temporary data from Oxford and Pfizer / BioNTech in early December and once we get that I think we can get a year to go,” said Kate Bingham, chairman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was a chance to get a vaccine in the first quarter of 2021. AstraZeneca presented its results for the third quarter on Thursday.
The work of the Oxford virus vector vaccine, called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, began in January. It is made from the weakest type of common cold virus that causes infections in monkeys.
The chimpanzee cold virus has been genetically modified to introduce the gene sequence of the so-called spike protein used by the coronavirus to gain access to human cells. Hopefully the human body will then attack the novel coronavirus when it sees it again.
If the Oxford vaccine works, it may eventually allow the earth to return to a normal level.
Asked what success looks like, Pollard said: “The good thing is that there are very strong vaccines – so whether, say, that is, 50, 60, 70, 80 percent, whatever the number – is a huge success.
“It completely transforms the game and is a success when we meet those areas of end-success,” he said, adding that it would reduce the pressure on the health system.
But Pollard and Bingham have agreed that the world will not return to its former glory. Asked about the chances of a vaccine that would eradicate coronavirus next year, Bingham said the prospects were “very low”.
“But the chances of getting a vaccine that is effective in reducing both illnesses, and reducing (high) mortality are very high,” said Bingham, adding that he had more than 50% confidence that there would be such a vaccine in early summer.