An Oxford University vaccine trial has only a 50 percent chance of success because coronavirus is fading so rapidly in Britain, a project co-leader has warned.
The warning comes as new data reveals that there are now 224 vaccines in development around the world – almost double the total of just a month ago.
Professor Adrian Hill said an upcoming Oxford vaccine trial, involving 10,000 volunteers, threatened to return “no result” because of low transmission of COVID-19 in the community.
This week, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced a $US1.2 billion deal with the United States to produce 400 million doses of an unproven coronavirus vaccine first produced in Hill’s small Oxford lab. The British government has agreed to pay for up to 100 million doses, announcing that 30 million might be ready for British citizens as soon as September.
“It is a race, yes. But it’s not a race against the other guys. It’s a race against the virus disappearing, and against time,” he said. “At the moment, there’s a 50 per cent chance that we get no result at all.”
Hill said that of 10,000 people recruited to test the vaccine in the coming weeks — some of whom will be given a placebo — he expected fewer than 50 people to catch the virus. If fewer than 20 test positive, then the results might be useless, he warned.
“We’re in the bizarre position of wanting COVID to stay, at least for a little while. But cases are declining.”