Trials for a coronavirus vaccine could be done by mid-August, a key adviser to the US government has said.
John Bell, a member of the US government’s coronavirus vaccine task force, said that human test trials for a coronavirus vaccine had started at Oxford University this week.
But he stressed that the real question was whether the vaccine would be effective, not when it would become available. It will only be tested when we have vaccinated a significant number of people and exposed them to the COVID-19 and counted how many people have got COVID-19 in that population.
However, he also said if things go on course and it does have efficacy, it might be possible that their team would be able to complete the trial by mid-August.
Bell added that after a wide range of safety studies, a candidate vaccine tested at Oxford had gone “into man” for the first time last Thursday. If there will be any evidence of a strong immune response by the end of May, then the next step would be the massive issue of how they would manufacture at scale many billions of doses.
The comments came under mounting pressure on the US government to provide frontline staff in hospitals and care homes with personal protective equipment after it emerged that doctors and nurses have been asked by the NHS to work without protective full-length gowns as treating COVID-19 patients.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said that some trusts will run out of supplies on this weekend since the national stock of protective full-length gowns was now exhausted.
The business secretary, Alok Sharma, announced on Friday details of cash grants for vaccines and potential treatment research, which the government hopes to be regularly given to healthcare staff and other high-risk groups in order to provide protection over some weeks or months.
There are at least 56 NHS workers having died from COVID-19. The actual number of healthcare staff to have lost their lives seems to be much higher since not all deaths will be in the public domain.