Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, is leading the team at the forefront of drug therapies, antibody testing and contact tracing systems.
We were delighted to hear him speak at an exclusive ‘Coutts in Conversation’ online event, chaired by Coutts Chairman Lord Waldegrave. It was the latest in a series of sessions designed to connect clients to leading insight on hot topics.
Early days but promising signs
According to Professor Bell, it’s a case of “so far, so good” in developing the vaccine.
“We’ve vaccinated about 1,000 people,” he told our audience. “We’re now measuring those people’s antibodies, and I suspect they’ll have very good antibodies, and (we) are going to move within the next week on to the phase three study, which will be about another 10,000 people.
“We’re concentrating on older age groups, because that’s the vulnerable population, but also on healthcare workers and a variety of groups that are more likely to get the disease.”
Working faster than ever imagined
Professor Bell added, “The strategy will be to get efficacy data by the end of June, and then try to get a phase three study done by the end of August so we can get regulatory approval in September and start vaccinating then.”
But he stressed that this timeline was “the best case scenario” for dealing with the “ghastly disease”.
“On average it takes eight years to make a vaccine against a virus. We’ve been at it for eight weeks,” he said. “This is really hard and more vaccine candidates fail than ever succeed.”