The Oxford vaccine trial in the battle against COVID-19 may only have a 50% chance of succeeding according to the professor leading the project. Professor Adrian Hill from the Jenner Institute said the trial, involving 10,000 people, could produce a “no result” if the virus continues retreating in the UK population. Fewer of the volunteers in the trial could actually come into contact with the virus.
A much-anticipated coronavirus vaccine trial only has a 50 per cent chance of success, the professor leading the project has warned.
High hopes have been pinned on the vaccine from Oxford University, with a deal for 30million doses by September already in place.
But Professor Adrian Hill said the upcoming trial of 10,000 Britons may flop and produce ‘no result’ because the virus is vanishing in the UK.
Normally in large-scale trials, participants will be given the vaccine and mingle among society to see if the jab is effective at preventing them picking up the virus – in this case COVID-19
But the virus is circulating at low levels. Around 0.25 per cent of the population is currently infected and this will drop further if lockdown continues to work.
Volunteers will find it difficult to catch COVID-19, meaning scientists can’t prove whether the vaccine actually makes any difference.
The fear has also been expressed by Imperial College London researchers, Britain’s second vaccine contender which is not yet in clinical trials.
The dilemma has led scientists to consider purposely infecting volunteers with the virus to see if the vaccine protects them.
It would speed up vaccine development and save lives – but would be difficult to push through on ethical grounds.