Each day, tens of thousands of new patients are testing positive for Covid-19 and thousands of deaths are still being reported around the world.

While some countries have cautiously eased lockdown procedures, others are still enforcing them for the time being.

The UK has been on lockdown for several weeks now, with the FCO advising the public to avoid non-essential travel abroad indefinitely.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

On Wednesday 22 April England's chief medical officer, Chris Witty, said social distancing could continue till the end of 2020 unless a vaccine was found.

So how close are we to having one? The first human trials for vaccines are set to begin on Thursday 22 April, and researchers are actively looking for volunteers.

Heres what you need to know.

Who is running the human vaccine trials?

Several countries are racing to find a vaccine for coronavirus,

In the UK, the first trials will be conducted by two universities – the University of Oxford and Imperial College London – as separate research projects.

The government is providing £20m in funding to the Oxford team and £22.5m to researchers at Imperial according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

If the trials are successful, the first vaccines could come into circulation by autumn this year.

What's the Oxford University vaccine?

The Oxford Vaccine Centre’s COVID-19 vaccine trial is run by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, and is a collaborative project with several partners around the world.

Researches started working on possible vaccines on 10 January 2020 and now think they've found a suitable candidate.

The vaccine they want to test is a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector (an inactive virus) currently named ​ChAdOx1, chosen because "it can generate a strong immune response from one dose and it is not a replicating virus, so it cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual".

These characteristics mean it's safe to be given to children, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes.

How to feel less anxious about coronavirus

What's the Imperial College vaccine?

Researchers at Imperial College London have been working on a vaccine since early February.

Details of the vaccine hasn't been made public yet but is said to be a "self-amplifying RNA vaccine", essentially a protein that can replicate itself.

Researchers said: "When immune cells come across these proteins, they will react by creating antibodies to fight off the danger. But they also create a lasting memory of the threat for any future attack."

It's hoped that this vaccine will enable the body to learn to fight off the virus quicker in future.

Who can take part in the clinical trials and how can I get involved?

Oxford University started seeking healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55 for their trials at the end of March.

They needed 510 participants from the Thames Valley region, who will go through a series of pre-screening tests before they are given the vaccine on Thursday.

While the Thames Valley trials have now filled up, they are actively recruiting potential candidates in other parts of the country, including Bristol, Southampton and London, which you can sign up for online.

Imperial College has also joined the Oxford team and will be running the trials in London. Separately, they are also looking to start running trials of their version of the vaccine in June.

You can sign up for the Imperial College trial online here.

As well as the human vaccine trials, it's also worth noting that the National Institute for Health Research is also recruiting volunteers for a number of other coronavirus-related clinical trials. You can find out more and sign up here.

Comments

Share your thoughts and debate the big issues

Learn more
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Create a commenting name to join the debate

Please try again, the name must be unique Only letters and numbers accepted
Loading comments...
Loading comments...
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Loading comments...
Loading comments...