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Taskforce to make a vaccine available to the public as quickly as possible

Volunteers may receive their first dose of a potential coronavirus vaccine within a week. ( AFP via Getty Images )

Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University who is leading the research on a new vaccine, said she was optimistic about the efficacy of the vaccine they are currently working on.

She has previously said that she was 80 per cent confident of its success. 

If the clinical trials are a success, the team aims to have more than a million doses ready by September. 

Although she acknowledged that scientists can never be sure before trials have been conducted, Ms Gilbert said: "Personally, I have a high degree of confidence.

"This is my view, because I've worked with this technology a lot, and I've worked on the Mers vaccine trials, and I've seen what that can do. And, I think, it has a very strong chance of working."

Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator on the study, said the initial trial could begin “within a week”, but that the exact timing would depend on when the last part of manufacturing testing was complete.

Professor Adrian Hill, director of the university’s Jenner Institute, said that the team had possibly the “most ambitious scale up” programme of any group working on a vaccine.

He added that the aim is to have “at least a million doses” available by September if it proves successful. 

Prof Hill added:"And then move even faster from there because it's pretty clear the world is going to need hundreds of millions of doses, ideally by the end of this year to end this pandemic, to let us out of lockdown.

"A vaccine is the exit strategy for this pandemic and then we're very likely to need a vaccine in future years because it's unlikely we'll be able to eradicate this virus."

The Oxford team will be working alongside three other groups of researchers – two in the United States and one in China – in beginning trials on humans.

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