Could there be a vaccine in time for 'likely second outbreak' of coronavirus in winter?
MORE than 35 universities, biotech and drug companies worldwide are racing to produce a vaccine to stop coronavirus in its tracks.
Journalist and medical doctor Michael Mosley, known for presenting science programmes on the BBC and for his regular appearances on The One Show, has explored the research and says he is "gobsmacked by the speed the vaccine research is going ahead".
The first experimental jab entered human trials in the US last month, and scientists at the University of Oxford have started to recruit 500 volunteers to test a vaccine that they developed only in January.
Another promising vaccine is being developed at Imperial College London, where Professor Robin Shattock created a prototype vaccine in, incredibly, just two weeks.
Using details of the coronavirus’s genetic code shared by Chinese scientists, he made small stretches of genetic material in the lab designed to trick the immune system into producing antibodies against the virus.
Tests on mice produced a "massive antibody response". Tests on monkeys are now under way, with a small trial in humans due to follow.
"If that is successful, then you would normally move to a larger trial involving a few thousand healthy people," says Dr Mosley. "But Professor Shattock thinks that in these exceptional circumstances, vaccine researchers would be justified in moving to something much bigger, much faster.
"He surprised me by saying that if everything goes to plan and their vaccine is shown to be safe and effective, then it is possible that five million doses of it would be ready to give to vulnerable people and front-line medical staff this winter – in time for what he fully expects to be a second outbreak of the virus."
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