This week, Oxford University in the United Kingdom began enrolling human patients in trials for a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine – called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 – will be administrated to 510 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55. They will all receive two shots, roughly 4 weeks apart.
While this is not the first COVID-19 vaccine trial in the world, it appears to be among the most promising. The team’s lead Professor Sarah Gilbert has given it an 80% change of being effective and suggested it could be available for widespread use as soon as September.
With this new trial, there are now five approved human trials for a coronavirus vaccine worldwide and 120 projects working toward a vaccine in total. While Gilbert and her team remain optimistic about their approach, it appears many, if not most, in the scientific community believe it will likely take at least a year before a viable vaccine is ready for widespread consumption.
The new trial from Oxford comes amid a major push by the British government to develop a vaccine. The government has already provided more than $25 million USD for this project alone and plans to begin another human trial at London’s Imperial University in June.
“Both of these promising projects are making rapid progress and I’ve told the scientists leading them we will do everything in our power to support,” said U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “I am throwing everything at it.”
It seems like every day, there is word of a new vaccine, testing technology, new masks, or something else that will offer us hope amid this pandemic. To be honest, it’s hard for me to decipher what truly represents a step forward in our response to COVID-19 and what is simply wishful thinking. Only time will tell. Regardless, at worst, the more experiments we perform, the more information we have about this virus. Even if a “failure,” this effort could move us toward the eventual solution.
But with any luck, Gilbert’s optimism is well-founded and the vaccine will be ready for use around the world sometime this year.