- Study results today showed four-week immune response in 35/35 people
- First deal done for jabs for 30m doses from BioNTech and German firm Pfizer
- A further 60million doses have been ordered from labs of France's Valneva
- UK scientists are '80 per cent' confident that a jab could be ready by September
- Trials finding that participants develop antibodies and killer T-cells to fight it
Hopes of ending the Covid-19 pandemic with a vaccine grew today after promising data revealed Oxford University's experimental jab is safe and provoke an immune reaction that lasts for at least two months.
Hugely-anticipated clinical trial results of the vaccine — one of the front-runners in the world's race for a jab — revealed more than 91 per cent of volunteers injected produced an immune response against the coronavirus that lasted a month or more.
Immune responses remained strong for at least 56 days, according to results in The Lancet. But it won't be licensed for human use yet because it has not been proven to work and the results only show it has promise.
The scientists who did the study, however, said it is 'possible' that the vaccine could be ready by December if tests keep going according to plan. Another added that people in the most at-risk groups could get the first jabs in the winter.
Crucially, nobody suffered any bad side effects from the vaccine and it is stimulating the immune system as scientists hoped. Some people developed headaches, tiredness and pain in their arm after they were given the jab, but scientists claimed none of the side effects were severe.
Oxford University's vaccine — called AZD1222 — is already being manufactured by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the UK Government has ordered 100million doses ahead of time.
Researchers on the project said 'the early results hold promise' but added much more is still needed.' Infectious disease scientists warned 'there is still a long way to go' before any vaccine is rolled out.
If the vaccine is given to the public it is likely to be in two doses given close together, developers said, because that seems to strengthen the body's response.
The eagerly awaited results come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson this morning tried to temper expectations when he admitted he wasn't totally confident there would even be a vaccine by the end of next year.
Ministers did, however, today announce deals for a further 90million doses of two types of experimental jab being developed in France and Germany. Britain is shoring up stocks of vaccines in development all over the world in its spread-betting approach in the hope that at least one of them will pay off.