Oxford COVID-19 vaccine developer cautious on 2020 roll-out

A employee is seen at the Reference Center for Special Immunobiologicals (CRIE) of the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp) where the trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine are conducted, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 24, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 July 2020

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine developer cautious on 2020 roll-out

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca shot showed promise in early-stage trials
  • Medical officials differ on potential timeline for vaccines

LONDON: The University of Oxford’s possible COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out by the end of the year but there is no certainty, the lead developer of the vaccine said on Tuesday.
The experimental vaccine, which has been licensed to AstraZeneca, produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday, preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of 2020.
“The end of the year target for getting vaccine roll-out, it’s a possibility but there’s absolutely no certainty about that because we need three things to happen,” Sarah Gilbert told BBC Radio.
She said it needed to be shown to work in late-stage trials, there needed to be large quantities manufactured, and regulators had to agree quickly to license it for emergency use before large numbers of people could be vaccinated.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and his deputy Jonathan Van-Tam took differing views on the potential timeline.
“The chance of us getting a vaccine before Christmas that actually is highly effective are, in my view, very low,” Whitty told lawmakers.
Van-Tam, however, said he was “cautiously optimistic that we will have some vaccine this side of Christmas.”
The Oxford scientists had eyed a million doses of the potential vaccine to be produced by September.
Although the deal with AstraZeneca has provided manufacturing capacity to do that, the lower prevalence of the novel coronavirus in Britain has complicated the process of proving its efficacy.
Late-stage trials crucial for providing data are under way in Brazil and South Africa and are due to start in the United States also.
There are no approved vaccines yet for COVID-19, but the World Health Organization has said AstraZeneca’s shot is one of the leading candidates.


Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

Updated 16 January 2021

Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

  • Two policemen were killed and one wounded
  • The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks

KABUL: A roadside bomb targeting a police vehicle in the Afghan capital killed two policemen Saturday, officials said, as violence continues unabated in Afghanistan despite peace talks between the Taliban and government.
The vehicle carrying the policemen was struck by the bomb in the center of the capital on the road to the prestigious Kabul University, police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said.
Two policemen were killed and one wounded, Faramarz said.
Violence has surged across the country in recent months, especially in Kabul which is also rocked by a new trend of targeted killings that has sown fear in the city.
The bloodshed comes even as the Taliban and government negotiators engage in peace talks to end the nearly two decade war in the country.
The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks.