- Speaking to state broadcaster, CGTN, Dr. Gao Fu has underlined that developing an effective drug requires time.
- The UK is working on a similar project.
- One of the main goals right now is to prevent future infections because the first wave may be coming to an end.
Dr. Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, has proclaimed that a successful coronavirus vaccine could be developed by September. The health chief said that a breakthrough would help mitigate the disease, and stop a new wave of infections.
Speaking to state broadcaster, CGTN, he has underlined that developing an effective drug requires time.
“Because the vaccine will be used on healthy people, you wanna make sure the vaccine you’re developing is safe and efficient. Maybe by September, we might have a vaccine to be used for emergencies. For example, if we have some emergency outbreak again.”
He has revealed that the current “emergency vaccine,” which is at the second or third stage of clinical trials, will most likely be tested on medical workers before trials on the general population. The latest announcement comes at a time when pharmaceutical companies around the world are racing to come up with an effective treatment for the virus, which has so far infected over 2.6 million people.
China is currently working on three vaccine candidates. Clinical trials on them have already commenced. Two of them are in the second round of testing. In the United Kingdom, over 800 volunteers have signed up at Oxford University to participate in the first clinical trial of a potential vaccine. The subjects will be divided into two groups.
One will receive the actual coronavirus vaccine, while the other will get a control vaccine. The volunteers will, however, not be informed about the type of medication that they are getting. This is to help eliminate placebo effects. The potential vaccine was developed by an Oxford University team led by Sarah Gilbert. She is a vaccinology professor at the Jenner Institute. She has expressed confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccine.
“Personally I have a high degree of confidence in this vaccine. Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to demonstrate it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wider population.”
The team has, in the past, also developed a vaccine against the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The virus is a different version of coronavirus that emerged in 2012. Prof Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, has highlighted that one of the main goals right now is to prevent future infections because the first wave may be coming to an end.
“We’re chasing the end of this current epidemic wave. If we don’t catch that, we won’t be able to tell whether the vaccine works in the next few months. But we do expect that there will be more cases in the future because this virus hasn’t gone away.”