Coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September, top British scientist says

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A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

A vaccine against the coronavirus could be ready by September, a scientist leading Britain’s top vaccine development team said Saturday.

According to a report published in the Times, Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the vaccine development team at Oxford University, said that she is “80% confident” the vaccine would be ready for public use by September.

Gilbert said her prediction was “not a hunch” as the team has larger available data to examine each week.

She noted that human trials for the vaccine will start within the next two weeks. For human trials, the university will recruit people of all ages but will focus on older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus and less responsive to vaccines due to their weak immune systems.

Gilbert said she is in talks with the British government about the funding and production to allow patients to access the vaccine as soon as possible.

Gilbert’s team is one of at least a dozen other drugmakers and scientific groups working on vaccines, antivirals and other treatments to help those infected with the fast-spreading respiratory virus, with some antivirals already being used in trials.

On Wednesday, Maryland-based late-stage biotechnology company Novavax Inc said it had identified a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate and would start human trials in mid-May.

Analysts are also awaiting results in the near term for products already approved for other conditions from companies such as Roche Holding and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

While experts estimate an approved vaccine could be at least a year away, progress toward treatments that benefit some COVID-19 patients could help investors gauge when the epidemic could come under control and some economic activity might resume.

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