A vaccine for coronavirus is the breakthrough the world is waiting for. It would give humanity a way to beat the infection and save lives.
Lots of scientific groups in different nations are chasing this goal, and United Kingdom’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock hopes the UK will be the one to succeed.
He’s promised £42.5m (Ksh5.5 billion) to fund two research groups: one team at Imperial College London and the other based at Oxford University.
Matt Hancock said: “I am certain we will throw everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine.”
He added that the UK has “put more money than any other country on a vaccine search”.
The Oxford group, led by Prof Sarah Gilbert, is to begin testing its vaccine in human volunteers on Thursday, April 23.
Her team at the Jenner Institute set to work as soon as the genetic code, or blueprint, of coronavirus became available in January.
The vaccine uses a small section of this code packaged into a harmless virus. Scientists hope that delivering this into the body will teach the immune system how to fight off the real disease, without ever needing to become infected with coronavirus.
Oxford University scientists, who are developing the COVID-19 vaccine said the drug has an 80 per cent chance of success, reports Sky News.
The Oxford vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is made from a harmless chimpanzee virus that has been genetically engineered to carry part of the coronavirus, says Sky News.
The technique has already been shown to generate strong immune responses in other diseases.
The plan is to test it on around 500 volunteers by mid-May and if that work proves successful, give it to thousands more volunteers.
Other groups, like Prof Robin Shattock and colleagues at Imperial, are using pieces of raw genetic code which, once injected into the body, should start producing bits of viral proteins which the immune system again can learn to fight.
The UK has announced it is giving more than £40m to two British projects searching for a vaccine for coronavirus — with one trial (Oxford University’s) to start this week.
One of those projects, led by Imperial College London’s Department of Infectious Diseases, is appealing for volunteers.
In a tweet, the college’s trust said it was looking for healthy people aged between 18 and 55, and that successful applicants would be paid up to £625 (Ksh82, 050) for taking part.