Coronavirus vaccine human trials: How they work and how to volunteer

22 April 2020, 08:25 | Updated: 22 April 2020, 10:13

By Adrian Sherling

The professor behind one of the UK's first human trials for a coronavirus vaccine told Nick Ferrari how it will work and when a vaccine will be available.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday that the first human trials of coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University and Imperial College will start on Thursday.

Researchers are trialling the two vaccines against Covid-19 in the hope of bringing them forward to manufacturing as soon as possible.

Nick Ferrari spoke to Dr Katrina Pollock, the principal investigator for the COVID-19 vaccine trials at Imperial College London, to find out exactly what's going to happen with the trials.

What is being trialled?

"This is the start of the first of the clinical trials in the UK. This is the beginning of testing one of two candidate vaccines in human trials.

"Work on the vaccine started very early in the year. Within the first couple of weeks of January, scientists were able to sequence the virus in China, which means that we were able to understand it very quickly.

"From that moment on, work to create a candidate vaccine moved forward at great pace."

Nick Ferrari spoke to the professor behind a new coronavirus vaccine trial
Nick Ferrari spoke to the professor behind a new coronavirus vaccine trial. Picture: LBC / PA

How can you volunteer for the coronavirus vaccine trial?

"There are a number of criteria that people need to fulfil to be eligible to be involved in this early stage vaccine trial. They are usually quite strict so we can see understand the vaccine is performing.

"As we understand the vaccine and the responses, then we move to larger phase two or phase three trials where we include more people. Ultimately, what we want is a vaccine that is going to protect people from this infection, especially the vulnerable and the elderly."

Who can volunteer for the vaccine trial?

The participants they are looking for need to be:
- adults aged 18-55
- in good health
- have not tested positive for Covid-19
- is not pregnant
- has not taken part in previous adenoviral vaccine trials

This is a multi-site trial, which means that if you want to volunteer, you will need to live near one of the centres, which include Bristol, Southampton, Thames Valley and Greater London.

How long will vaccine trials last?

"These early trials will last up to one year. But the early part of the trials, we'll get data coming through all the time.

"It's normal for us to follow up with volunteers who have been in the trial for quite a long time afterwards, but that doesn't mean we won't get data coming through right from the beginning."

READ MORE: How long does coronavirus live on surfaces?

The vaccine undergoing human trials
The vaccine undergoing human trials. Picture: Oxford Group Covid Trial

When will a vaccine be available to the public?

"I'd like to say as soon as possible - there is a great need for this vaccine.

"We're looking at a timescale of months while we trial this vaccine. As we come towards the end of this first trial of the vaccine, we'll be able to say far more clearly when that's going to be.

"We're pushing ahead really quickly so we have some answers on how these vaccines are behaving by the autumn.

"Having a product available by the autumn will be ambitious. We will know more after we start these first trials."

Will they be able to manufacture enough of the vaccine?

Scaling up manufacturing and distribution are going to be key questions when we have those vaccine candidates available.

"As well as trialling these two vaccines in the UK, we have to look at how they are going to be manufactured and distributed and also at what cost. That is part of this work.

"There is a global effort to deliver it, so I would be confident we can do this when the time comes."

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Who will own the vaccine?

"In terms of ownership and distribution, those are discussions that need to be taken forward at the manufacturing stage.

"Initially, the vaccine project that we're working on is sponsored by the University of Oxford."

Will it be annual like the flu jab?

At this point, it's quite early to understand that. It's possible that the virus could circulate in the community and we'd need to look at how to protect people from infection in the long term.

That will be a question for research going forward over the next few years.

More Nick Ferrari

See more More Nick Ferrari

The care minister has urged everyone to get their jab in time for Christmas

'All we want for Christmas is for everyone to get jabbed', says care minister

Ian Maxwell was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari

Watch in full: Nick Ferrari speaks to Ghislaine Maxwell's brother ahead of trial

The sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is set to begin in New York today

Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother says Prince Andrew was 'cancelled' on 'dubious grounds'

The UK wants to step up cooperation with France, a minister has said.

'Not just a British problem': UK ready to send ground support to France, minister says

Dominic Raab has dismissed claims Boris Johnson has been the subject of a number of no confidence letters

Raab dismisses PM no confidence letters as 'tittle tattle' as party rating plummets

Dominic Raab defended Harper's Law

Raab: Harper’s Law isn’t blurring lines between murder and manslaughter

The uncle of Dawn Ashworth says Pitchfork should have been handed a whole life sentence

Uncle of Pitchfork victim says Parole Board put kids 'at risk' by releasing killer

Exclusive
The Education Secretary refused to be drawn on the subject of Priti Patel

Education Secretary refuses to grade Priti Patel's performance over migrants

Exclusive
Nadhim Zahawi told LBC the new law was the forward in dealing with the migrant crisis.

Migrant crisis: New law must 'close the loophole, break the business model', Zahawi says

Exclusive
The Education Secretary was speaking on LBC's Call the Cabinet

Nadhim Zahawi: Anti-vax protesters should be 'nowhere near' schools

Exclusive
Nadhim Zahawi spoke to Nick Ferrari on LBC this morning

Zahawi hails UK jab rollout, saying Covid pandemic can shrink

Call The Cabinet | Watch live on Monday from 9am

Call The Cabinet with Nadhim Zahawi | Watch Again

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella will raise money for women all over the world.

Lloyd Webber's Cinderella gala to raise money to empower female refugees around the world

Caller with home on proposed HS2 route 'absolutely delighted' it's axed

Caller with home on proposed HS2 route 'absolutely delighted' it's axed

Exclusive
PC John Murray spoke to Nick Ferrari

'I will get them': Former cop vows to find out who fired gun that killed WPC Yvonne Fletcher

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber joins Nick Ferrari

Andrew Lloyd Webber joins Nick Ferrari | Watch again