A major COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United Kingdom is at risk of not producing usable results because researchers may not be able to find enough subjects that test positive for the virus, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
A vaccine produced at Oxford University, which is set for mass production through the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is set to be tested soon on 10,000 volunteers. However, professor Adrian Hill, the head of the lab that created the vaccine, is worried they might not have enough positive tests to get a result. From the Morning Herald:
"It is a race, yes. But it's not a race against the other guys. It's a race against the virus disappearing, and against time," he said. "At the moment, there's a 50 per cent chance that we get no result at all."
Hill said that of 10,000 people recruited to test the vaccine in the coming weeks — some of whom will be given a placebo — he expected fewer than 50 people to catch the virus. If fewer than 20 test positive, then the results might be useless, he warned.
"We're in the bizarre position of wanting COVID to stay, at least for a little while. But cases are declining."
The U.S. has agreed to purchase 400 million doses of the vaccine, and the U.K. plans to purchase 100 million doses, with 30 million of them potentially available to the public by September.
There are more than 200 coronavirus vaccines in development worldwide.
The number of daily new infections and deaths in both the U.S. and U.K. has decreased in May compared to the peak days in April even as testing increases, leading many locations to ease lockdown restrictions some and allow more businesses to open with precautions. Still, some states in the U.S. are waiting until there is a widely available vaccine before fully removing restrictions.