THE first volunteers have been injected with doses of a coronavirus vaccine being trialled in the UK.
Scientists at University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute have begun Europe’s first human trial by administering injections.
More than 800 volunteers are taking part in the trial of the vaccine, which was developed in under three months.
A scientists and a cancer researcher were administered with the first doses by University of Oxford researchers on Thursday.
A third was given a meningitis vaccine, used in the trial for comparison.
The participants said they wanted to help in what could be a groundbreaking development in the fight against Covid-19.
Microbiologist Elisa Granato, who took part in the trial on her 32nd birthday, said she was “excited” to support the efforts by volunteering.
She told the BBC: “Since I don’t study viruses, I felt a bit useless these days, so I felt like this is a very easy way for me to support the cause.”
Cancer researcher Edward O’Neill said: “It seems like the right thing to do to ensure that we can combat this disease and get over it a lot faster.”
Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the team, said she is optimistic about the chances of success.
She said: “Personally, I’m very optimistic it’s going to work. Formally, we are testing it in an efficacy setting.
“There’s absolutely no suggestion we’re going to start using this vaccine in a wider population before we’ve demonstrated that it actually works and stops getting people infected with coronavirus.”
The Oxford Vaccine Group hopes to repeat the process with six more volunteers on Saturday, moving to larger numbers on Monday.
Researchers at the institute, who created the vaccine using technology they have previously used for successfully treating diseases such as Mers and Ebola, are ‘confident’ that the trial will pave the way for millions of vaccines being made available to the public by September.
By taking a version of the common cold virus, ChAdOx1, and modifying it so that it does not grow in humans, scientists hope the process will activate an immune response that will protect humans and destroy the virus.