Scientists want to recruit more than 10,000 people across the UK – including children and older adults – to take part in the next two phases of clinical trials to find a vaccine for coronavirus.
Work began in January on an inoculation for COVID-19, which uses a virus taken from chimpanzees, developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group.
The first phase involved 160 healthy volunteers – aged between 18 and 55 – but now researchers want to expand that further.
Initially, they are looking for up to 620 new volunteers in three categories:
- 250 people aged 18-55 who have come into contact, or possible contact, with COVID-19 patients due to their work, such as health and care workers, cleaners, and dentists
- 250 healthy people aged at least 55
- 120 healthy people aged over 70
Scientists want a total of 10,260 people for the trial, which they say is one of only four under way worldwide.
It could also “pave the way for a vaccine to be delivered later this year”, according to Saul Faust, professor of paediatric immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Southampton.
Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the clinical studies are “progressing very well”.
He said: “We are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults, and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population.”
AstraZeneca said on Thursday that it had the capacity to manufacture one billion doses, and could begin supplying it in September.
The pharmaceutical firm said it has secured the first agreements for at least 400 million doses of the vaccine.
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In Scotland, the University of Glasgow will support the trials in collaborations with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Dr Jennifer Armstrong, medical director of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “We’re proud to have NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde join the global effort in finding an effective vaccine for COVID-19.
“Our dedicated team of health and care staff have put patients first every step of the way as we responded to this virus.”