Is a coronavirus vaccine going into production?
By Joe Harker
The only reliable way to get out of the coronavirus lockdown is for people to be free to live their normal lives without fear of becoming infected or spreading it further.
Either a person will need to have caught the virus and recovered to develop an immunity, or they will need to be injected with a sample of the virus so their immune system can develop a response.
That's vaccination, the way to provide immunity to a disease without just letting it infect millions of people, but how far away is a vaccine?
The Times reports that a deal has been struck between Oxford University and Cambridge based pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca to manufacture up to 30 million vaccines by September.
Development of a vaccine by Oxford University is seen as one of the best hopes for producing a way out of the lockdown, with the government throwing £65.5 million in additional funding for the research.
They are also sending £18.5 million to Universal College London for the development of a second potential vaccine.
Before anyone thinks this vaccine is sure to work it should be stated that testing is still ongoing and it will be some time before the results of human trials are known.
If it works then millions of Brits could be protected from Covid-19 and something resembling normal life could resume within months.
The Counter Claim:
This entire premise rests on an absolutely huge and conditional "if" surrounding the virus actually working.
Right now we don't know if it works and business secretary Alok Sharma has warned the UK is facing a "big if" on the vaccine actually working.
Developing a vaccine usually takes a very long time, often months or years before it is ready for mass manufacturing and then there is the time involved in making millions of doses.
The Daily Telegraph also reports concerns over whether the vaccine will work or not, it may only provide partial protection.
Hopes for a vaccine being ready in a matter of months rest on a very big if. We hope it will be but it would be too soon to take anything for granted.
The professor leading the Oxford vaccine project gives it an 80 per cent chance of succeeding.
Manufacturing a vaccine is a difficult process, with attempts to boost production running the risk of being unreliable.
Right now we can only hope that the vaccine will work and be available for millions of people in just a few months, but caution must be exercised as the hunt for good news can lead to people setting themselves up for disappointment.