Oxford coronavirus vaccine is effective in monkeys, could be available in September


As the world collectively holds its breath awaiting an effective vaccine against coronavirus, it appears so far that scientists at Oxford University have delivered the best potential candidate for success.

Scientists at that school’s Jenner Institute had a head start on this pandemic, because they had already created a vaccine for an earlier version of coronavirus that appeared last year. According to the New York Times, their new vaccine has so far proven effective on rhesus macaque monkeys, who were inoculated at a lab in Montana in May and stayed healthy for four weeks despite severe exposure to the virus.

By no means does that guarantee this vaccine will also work on humans, but those monkeys were as close a test subject as possible. The researchers hope to test it on more than 6,000 people by the end of May.

Of course, there will likely be a need for more than one type of vaccine. It’s possible that different products will be provided to different people based on factors such as age, cost and dosage, and a variety of vaccines from different locations will also prevent a bottleneck at the manufacturing and distribution points.

But if their vaccine proves effective in humans, Oxford scientists are optimistic that the first few million doses could be available by September, which is well ahead of the timetable most health experts have been using so far.

The next step in the process is finding areas where the virus continues to spread relatively uncontained, which could lead researchers anywhere in the world.

“We’ll have to chase the epidemic,” Professor Adrian Hill, the Jenner Institute’s director, told the New York Times. “If it is still raging in certain states, it is not inconceivable we end up testing in the United States in November.”

Originally published