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Covid-19 vaccine could be available in September, Oxford professor claims

The World Health Organization previously said it could take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be developed.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/PhotobyTawat

A COVID-19 VACCINE could be available for the general public by September, an Oxford University professor has claimed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) previously said it could take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be developed and approved for use.

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, today told The Times newspaper she is “80% confident” the vaccine being developed by her team would work, with human trials due to begin in the next fortnight.

She said: “I think there’s a high chance that it will work based on other things that we have done with this type of vaccine.

“It’s not just a hunch and as every week goes by we have more data to look at … I would go for 80%, that’s my personal view.”

In order for the vaccine to be distributed in the autumn, Gilbert said the British government will need to start production before it is proven to work.

“We don’t want to get to later this year and discover we have a highly effective vaccine and we haven’t got any vaccine to use,” she stated.

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Researchers all over the world are attempting to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

NHS workers dying

Meanwhile, Health Secretary has told Sky News that 19 NHS workers have died after contracting Covid-19, but said he is not aware of a link between the deaths and a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Matt Hancock said it was a “heartbreaking story” and offered his condolences to victims’ families and colleagues.

Hancock also said health workers should use PPE “appropriately” as it is a “precious resource”, adding that it is a logistical effort to get it to the millions of people working in health and social care.

Responding to Hancock’s comments about PPE, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) dismissed any suggestions that healthcare staff were “abusing or overusing” PPE.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that no PPE was “more precious a resource than a healthcare worker’s life, a nurse’s life, a doctor’s life”.

Speaking later on BBC Breakfast, Kinnair said that every day she hears from nurses saying they do not have enough protective equipment.

“I take offence actually that we are saying that healthcare workers are abusing or overusing PPE,” she added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is continuing to recover following his discharge from the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital where he has been receiving treatment for the virus.

Downing Street said he “continues to make very good progress” in his recovery, although Number 10 has refused to be drawn on how long he is expected to remain in hospital.

Contains reporting from PA

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Órla Ryan

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