Scientists are “optimistic” a coronavirus vaccine will be available by the autumn.
And Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the team in the hunt for a vaccine at Oxford University, said it should provide protection for “several years at least”.
However, it’s likely any jab will only “take the edge off” symptoms.
It won’t give complete protection from the virus.
The team at Oxford University have partnered with Astrazeneca to mass produce the drug.
The professor gave the government’s science and technology select committee an update on the team’s progress earlier this week.
She said: “Manufacturing is scaling up. We’re getting improvements in the ability of companies to manufacture the vaccine.”
Professor Gilbert added: “The aim is by the autumn to have a large amount of vaccine ready to use.”
She continued: “And as soon as we have the efficacy results and can go through the emergency use licence process, we’ll be able to start vaccinating.”
Lack of volunteers
The vaccine has been delayed as there haven’t been enough Brits to test it on as cases of coronavirus dropped in lockdown.
The aim is by the autumn to have a large amount of vaccine ready to use.
Instead, they’ve recruited people from Brazil and South Africa, where infection levels have been spiking.
Last week, volunteers started testing the vaccine.
Professor Gilbert added: “We’re optimistic based on earlier studies that we will see a good duration of immunity, for several years at least, and probably better than naturally acquired immunity.”
When will Brits be able to have the jab?
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, told MPs that he thinks Brits need to “prepare for the worst” this winter, in case the vaccine isn’t ready.
He also said that to protect the NHS from winter flu admissions teamed with a potential coronavirus outbreak, Brits who can should get their flu jab.
Who will be eligible for a vaccine?
If a vaccine is developed, initially there will be a limited supply, so medics will have to prioritise.
Healthcare workers who come into contact with COVID-19 patients would top the list.
The elderly will also be a priority because the disease is most deadly in older people.
However, there are fears that the vaccine will be less effective in older people, because aged immune systems do not respond well to immunisation.
It’s thought it would be better to vaccine those who live with or care for the elderly instead.
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