For months, we’ve been told once a vaccine arrives, we might be able to get back to some semblance of normal. So, where are we at with a due date?
In the UK, there are two key contenders we’ve been keeping an eye out for.
The first is the University of Oxford and Astrazeneca vaccine. The trial for this was recently halted after one of the vaccine recipients experienced a “suspected adverse event”, but has since been resumed.
Trials of the vaccine – which goes by two catchy names: ChAdOx1 or AZD1222 – are now going ahead after the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) said it was safe to do so.
The vaccine harnesses an adenovirus (common cold virus) from chimpanzees, which has been genetically modified so it can’t replicate in cells. This virus is used as it contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein [a protein that lives on the surface of the coronavirus].
When the vaccine enters cells inside the body, it uses this genetic code to produce the surface spike protein of the coronavirus, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.
It’s in the last phase of trials, which means tens of thousands of people in the US, UK, South Africa and Brazil are being vaccinated. The point of this trial is to see how the vaccine works in a large body of adults. Does it prevent people from becoming infected and unwell with Covid-19? That’s the question researchers hope to answer.
If the answer is yes, we could have a vaccine ready for early to mid-2021. It’s worth noting the World Health Organisation has said it doesn’t expect vaccines to be available to the masses until the middle of next year, due to checks for efficacy and safety.
Early trials of the Oxford vaccine have shown promise, with people displaying a “robust immune...