Oxford researchers have already successfully tested their vaccine on rhesus monkeys. According to the scientists, the vaccine could be available as early as September.
Vaccine effective in rhesus monkeys
Scientists at the institute have been able to prove in previous studies that similar vaccinations – including one last year against a previous coronavirus – were harmless to humans. This explains the time advantage over other research teams.
Oxford researchers believe that with an emergency regulatory approval, if the vaccine turns out to be effective, it will be available by September.
Scientists at the National Institute of Health in Montana tested the vaccine on six rhesus monkeys last month and then exposed them to the virus. A month later, all the animals were healthy.
“The rhesus monkey is pretty much the closest thing to humans,” says Vincent Munster, who did the test with the monkeys. The results of the investigation are currently still being evaluated. Furthermore, immunity in monkeys is no guarantee that a vaccine will provide the same level of protection for humans.
It takes several vaccines
Whether the Oxford researchers will be successful or not, more than one vaccine is needed, says Emilio Emini, director of the vaccination program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports many competing studies.
Some vaccines may be more effective in children than in the elderly, and vice versa. A large number of vaccines will also help to avoid bottlenecks.
Around 70 laboratories worldwide are currently researching vaccines against Covid-19. In China and the USA, these are already being tested on people. Oxford would be the first European research team to test a vaccine on humans. (20 min)
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