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Scientists at the University of Oxford hope to report the results of the later stages of their trials. Vaccine for COVID-19 by Christmas, a key researcher said Thursday while discussing the team’s latest findings.
Dr Andrew Pollard, an expert in pediatric infections and immunity at Oxford, said research was slowed by low infection rates over the summer, but phase III trials are now accumulating the data needed to report results as a new increase of the coronavirus pandemic reaches countries around the world. Oxford is developing its vaccine together with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

“I think we are getting closer, and it will definitely be before Christmas based on progress,” Dr Pollard said in an interview with the BBC.

Oxford vaccine trial
On this Thursday, April 23, 2020, a file screenshot taken from a video released by Britain’s Oxford University, showing a person injected as part of the first human trials in the UK to test a possible vaccine against coronavirus, not taken by the University of Oxford in England. (AP)

Dr. Pollard discussed progress in late-stage trials when Oxford published a study based on earlier research that found the vaccine was well tolerated and produced a strong immune response in people over 70 years of age. This is important because vaccines often don’t work as well in older people, Dr. Pollard said.

“The reason we are so delighted is that we are seeing that immune responses look exactly the same, even in those who are in their 70s,” said Dr. Pollard.

The findings were based on a so-called phase II trial of 560 people, including 240 over the age of 70. Results of the peer-reviewed study were published Thursday in the Lancet, an international medical journal.

Phase II vaccine trials provide important preliminary data, but they don’t test whether they ultimately keep people from getting sick. Oxford and AstraZeneca are awaiting the results of phase III trials in thousands of people around the world to show whether their vaccine is safe and effective.

Two other pharmacists, Pfizer Y Modern, this week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing its COVID-19 vaccines were nearly 95 percent effective.

Dr. Pollard said there is no competition between the various research teams, because multiple vaccines will be needed to control the global pandemic and allow life to return to normal.

Despite recent progress, Dr. Pollard said the world is still in the early stages of the effort to protect people from COVID-19. Even after the vaccines are approved by regulators, drug manufacturers and public health officials still face the task of producing billions of doses and administering them to people around the world, he said.

Dr. Pollard, an amateur mountaineer, likened the task to the work involved in climbing a mountain.

“I think we are still at the foot of that mountain in some way,” he said.

“We have made the route to the base of the mountain, the long walk to get to the start. Now we have to put the vaccine data in front of the regulators for them to review and approve the first vaccines. And then we have that great effort to climb to the top where we have a large majority of those at risk vaccinated. “

– Reported with Associated Press

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