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Oxford professor: Possible coronavirus vaccine could show efficacy by June

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Sir John Bell, the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said Sunday that researchers at the university working on a potential vaccine for the coronavirus would likely have an idea of its efficacy by June.

Bell told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that researchers hope to generate enough data from Phase Two trials to “get evidence that the vaccine has efficacy by the beginning of June.” 

Bell called the chances of success in developing a vaccine “pretty good,” adding “we are gradually reeling it in, bit by bit and as every day goes by, the likelihood of success goes up.”

If the disease “peters out in the U.K.,” Bell added, “we have sites already in play in other parts of the world where it’s active.”

“Coronavirus doesn’t mutate at the pace of flu as far as we can see but it’s also quite a tricky virus in terms of dictating long-term immune responses to it and as a result I suspect we may need to have relatively regular vaccinations against coronavirus going into the future,” Bell added. “That of course remains to be seen but that’s my bet at the moment, is that this is likely to be a seasonal coronavirus vaccine.”

{mosads}The Oxford team, he added, is making safety a priority even as it fast-tracks potential vaccines, saying the researchers have done pre-clinical primate studies and taken other precautions, ensuring that “we’re being very careful.”

“I think we’ve got reason to believe that the efficacy, the efficacy of the vaccine in terms of generating strong antibody responses is probably going to be OK. The real question is whether the safety profile’s going to be fine. So that’s actually the main focus of the clinical studies,” he said.

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