One of Britain's top scientists leading the effort to produce a COVID-19 vaccine recently said she is "80%" confident that a vaccine could be ready by September.
Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, told the Times of London over the weekend that her team is set to begin human trials on its potential vaccine by the end of April. By September, the product could be ready for distribution — but only "if everything goes perfectly," she acknowledged.
"I think there's a high chance that it will work based on other things that we have done with this type of vaccine," Gilbert said. "It's not just a hunch and as every week goes by we have more data to look at. I would go for 80%, that's my personal view."
Gilbert's team is one of numerous teams around the world working diligently — and at unprecedented speed — to come up with a working vaccine to fight the global coronavirus pandemic that has infected at least 1.8 million and killed over 115,000 people worldwide.
The World Health Organization announced Saturday that there are 70 vaccines currently in development around the world, with three of them already being tested in human trials.
According to Time magazine, the vaccine that is furthest along in the clinical process is being developed by Hong Kong-listed CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology That vaccine is in phase 2 of human testing. Two others being developed in the United States by Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Moderna, along with the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, are currently in phase 1 of human testing.
The University of Oxford vaccine candidate could be the fourth product to begin human trials in the coming weeks.
Another vaccine being developed in the U.S. by a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are in the pre-clinical stage and are currently seeking fast-tracked approval for testing from the Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading health official on the White House coronavirus task force, previously cautioned Americans that it would likely be 12-18 months before a vaccine could be developed. Until further notice that conventional wisdom still stands.
But the hope is that scientific innovation and ingenuity will speed the process and shorten the time period.
Gilbert is certainly hopeful about her team's vaccine, but was careful to add that "nobody can promise it's going to work."