Scientist in charge of coronavirus vaccine tells LBC how trials are going

30 April 2020, 09:54

By Adrian Sherling

The professor leading the coronavirus vaccine trials has told LBC the difficulties they face in getting a product ready for use.

Professor Robin Shattock is the scientist leading the Covid-19 vaccine trials at Imperial College.

He told Nick Ferrari that there is no quick way to create a safe and effective vaccine.

"There are no shortcuts with developing a vaccine. One of the reasons for that is that safety is paramount.

"Most people will only get mild symptoms from this virus and yet we need to vaccinate everybody to protect the most vulnerable people in the population. So we need to be sure that vaccines are very safe and also sure that they are going to work really well before we introduce them widely into any population.

"The challenge is that we need to test the vaccine in the community to see if it prevents infection. That will probably not be in large trials until October time and then it depends on how many people are being infected in the community as to how quickly we can determine whether it's protecting people from getting the infection.

"So if social distancing and lockdown work really well, it will take us longer to determine whether a vaccine works.

"Obviously we would like there to be less infections, but that will be challenging in terms of the timelines of getting the numbers to prove that the vaccine is really working efficiently."

Nick Ferrari heard from the man in charge of running the UK vaccine trials
Nick Ferrari heard from the man in charge of running the UK vaccine trials. Picture: LBC / PA

The way the trial will work is that half the group will be given the vaccine and half a placebo vaccine. They hope to show that the group with the vaccine will show fewer or even no infections.

But that leaves a tricky paradox - the trials will be most effective if lockdown is eased, but that risks more people getting infected

The professor said: "That is always going to be the dilemma.

"What we are also looking at is whether we can start to think about doing a second vaccine trial somewhere else in the world where there might be higher incidents.

"It's one of the things that we have to factor into the timelines and why I can't say we will know by this date. It requires getting those numbers."

Watch his full interview at the top of the page.

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