Britain prepares for a possible vaccination rollout for masses in late December or early 2021. Results from the late-stage trials of Oxford experimental COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be available later this year, depending on the rate of infection among its trial participants, reported news agency Reuters. This is relevant in the context of surging Covid infections in the island country. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a month-long lockdown, starting from 5th November.
An effective vaccine is seen as a game-changer in the battle against this pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 1.2 million people worldwide, shattering the global economy and turning normal life upside down for billions of people. Currently, there are more than 200 vaccine candidates under development. The vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish drug maker, in partnership with Oxford University, is seen as the front-runner. If Oxford’s vaccine works, it would eventually enable the world to return to some level of normalcy. AstraZeneca has already announced that it is committed to providing broad and equitable access to the potential vaccine on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic.
Work on the Oxford viral vector vaccine, called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, began in January. The weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees has been used in preparation. The chimpanzee cold virus has been genetically changed to include the genetic sequence of the so-called spike protein. The coronavirus enters to human cells. Thus, it is predicted that the human body might then attack the novel coronavirus as it detects the spike protein.
Oxford Vaccine Trial Chief Investigator Andrew Pollard, when asked about the chances of presenting trial results, said that he is optimistic about reaching that point before the end of the year. He added that for their part, they were getting closer but not there yet. Pollard told British lawmakers that establishing whether or not the vaccine worked would likely come this year, after which the data would have to be carefully reviewed by regulators and then a political decision made on who should receive it. The National Health Service in England is preparing to start distributing possible COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas if one is ready by the end of the year. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said earlier that there is a vaccine prospect in the first quarter of 2021.