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Coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September with an 80% likelihood it will work, says Oxford University expert leading research team

Coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September with an 80% likelihood it will work, says Oxford University expert leading research team
  • Sarah Gilbert was '80 per cent confident' development would work by autumn
  • Last month she said she was hopeful it could be developed by the end of 2020
  • But she confirmed optimistic scenario as human trials set to begin in two weeks
  • Government indicated it would fund millions of vaccine doses that look hopeful
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September, it was reported last night.
Sarah Gilbert, an Oxford University professor currently leading Britain's most advanced search for a vaccine, said she was '80 per cent confident' her team's development would work by autumn.
Last month she was hopeful it could be developed by the end of 2020, but has now confirmed the most optimistic scenario after human trials look set to begin in the next fortnight.
The government has previously indicated it would fund the manufacture of millions of vaccine doses that looked promising in advance, allowing immediate availability to the public once developed.
Despite previous warnings a vaccine could take 18 months to produce, Professor Gilbert said the most bullish scenario for a working product was September 'if everything goes perfectly'.
She told the Times: '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 percent, that's my personal view.' 
Sarah Gilbert said she was '80 per cent confident' her team's development would work by autumn
Sarah Gilbert said she was '80 per cent confident' her team's development would work by autumn
Despite previous warnings a vaccine could take 18 months to produce, Professor Gilbert said the most bullish scenario for a working product was September 'if everything goes perfectly'. Pictured: St Thomas' Hospital in London yesterday
Despite previous warnings a vaccine could take 18 months to produce, Professor Gilbert said the most bullish scenario for a working product was September 'if everything goes perfectly'. Pictured: St Thomas' Hospital in London yesterday
Her team, one of dozens around the world working to find a vaccine, will look to trial it in a country with a high virus transmission rate in order to obtain results quickly.
Britain's lockdown makes it harder to test a vaccine due to the virus being unable to spread, she explained.
Her team were already in talks with the government (pictured, the Prime Minister on April 2) over production to avoid any delays, however, and avoid a second infection spike in autumnThe vaccinologist said: 'Nobody can promise it's going to work.'
Her team were already in talks with the government over production to avoid any delays, however, and avoid a second infection spike in autumn.
She said: '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.
'We don't think we need facilities built, there are facilities that can be switched over.'
Ministers have hinted that it may be worth spending tens of millions on a working vaccine to offset the economic cost of lockdown.
It comes as health experts say the coronavirus is mutating at a slower rate than several other respiratory viruses, particularly the flu.
The killer bug has already mutated close to 10 times, leading many to fear an even deadlier strain is around the corner.
But scientists say the mutations do not vary much from the virus that originated in Wuhan, China, nor are they more severe.
This means once a vaccine is readily available, it would provide protection against both the original virus and mutations - and for several years.The novel coronavirus (pictured) is an RNA virus, like the flu, which means it's prone to mutating unlike DNA viruses such as herpes
The novel coronavirus (pictured) is an RNA virus, like the flu, which means it's prone to mutating unlike DNA viruses such as herpes
The new virus - also known as SARS-CoV-2 - is an RNA virus, which means it has RNA as its genetic material. 
These viruses enter the cells through a receptor found on the surface, and then make hundreds of copies of themselves that can infect cells throughout the body.  
RNA viruses, such as the flu, often mutate, unlike DNA viruses, which include herpes and chickenpox.   
'In the world of RNA viruses, change is the norm,' Dr Mark Schleiss, a professor in the division of pediatric infectious diseases and immunology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, told Healthline.
The flu, for example, mutates every year, which is why researchers have to develop vaccines to protect us against the most prevalent strains. 
And the novel coronavirus has mutated. Currently, at least eight strains are making their way around the world.
However, the virus has mutated very slowly, and its mutations are very similar to the original virus.
This means that the mutations that struck Europe and the US are not different from the virus that first appeared in Wuhan, nor are they more infectious or more fatal. 
In the UK there have so far been 8,931 deaths due to the coronavirus and there have been over 65,000 confirmed cases.
Public Health England is currently reporting the deaths on a daily basis, today there were 980 new confirmed deaths.
But the figure could be more as this is just the number of patients that have died in hospitals from the virus over the last 24 hours.

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