The first injections took place in Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccination trial. The moment marked a major development in the race to find a cure for the pandemic, with hopes of producing a vaccine for public use as early as September.
Usually it takes years before clinical trials can take place, but academics have managed to speed up the process, reaching the phase in a matter of just weeks. Professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, Sarah Gilbert, who led the pre-clinical research, has said she has “a high degree of confidence” in the vaccine currently being trialled. However, one of the university’s own lecturers reacted with dread to the idea of the UK discovering a vaccine, admitting to being “worried” Britons will be proud of their country.
Dr Emily Cousens, who researches at Oxford Brooke’s but teaches at the University of Oxford, said: “The race is on and researchers at Oxford are doing vital, life-saving work. But races have winners and losers.
“If my university is the first to develop the vaccine, I’m worried that it will be used as it has been in the past, to fulfil its political, patriotic function as proof of British excellence. “The story will be clear: China, once again, has unleashed a threat to civilisation. But the best brains of the UK have saved the world.” Writing for the Huffington Post, the academic also took aim at Boris Jonhson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, criticising the Government’s response.
She admitted fearing a breakthrough vaccine would be a cause of celebration and the country would forget the “devastating” mistakes made by Government. The Doctor said: “If there is enough vaccine to go round, the UK will be the world’s saviour. “We’ll quickly forget the devastating delay of the UK Government to take action, as Boris Johnson proudly safeguarded British institutions like individual liberty, and the pub, over lives.” The entire world is desperately hoping for a cure for COVID-19 to be found, with life unlikely to return to normal until a vaccine can be produced.
More than 70 vaccinations are currently in development across the globe as the entire international community prioritises finding a solution to stop coronavirus. Researchers believe there is an 80 percent chance the vaccination currently undergoing human trials at Oxford University will work. The UK, US, China and Germany are the only four countries to have made sufficient progress in the search for a vaccine to have moved on to clinical trials. Speaking on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “very proud” Oxford University had made such quick progress.
He added the UK had “put more money than any other country into the global search for a vaccine”. There have been more than 191,000 deaths from coronavirus worldwide, with the UK recording 18,738 hospital deaths from the virus so far.
The latest official figures indicate Britain has passed the peak of the virus, however, the Government has warned it is unlikely to relax the lockdown measures currently in place across the country as it would risk a fresh surge in cases. Mr Hancock said in yesterday’s daily Downing Street briefing: “The message remains the same that people need to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
“The reason that we have clarity on that message is it has succeeded in bringing down and flattening the curve.
“But we are not through that yet and there is an awful lot of work that still needs to be done and we are absolutely determined to avoid a second peak.
“We have set out the five tests for when we should move on from the current lockdown.”We haven’t met them yet and therefore we must keep the social distancing measures in place.”
The UK-wide lockdown was first introduced on March 23 for an initial period of three weeks. It has since been extended by a further four weeks, meaning the country will remain under lockdown until at least May 7.