May 4, 2020 - Today in the world of coronavirus news -
People will likely need to take a coronavirus vaccine annually to protect themselves, similar to the annual flu vaccine, an Oxford University scientist working on a COVID-19 vaccine said on Sunday.
The coronavirus doesn’t mutate as quickly as the flu does, but it’s tough to create “longstanding immune responses” to it, said Sir John Bell, a professor of medicine, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I suspect we may need to have relatively regular vaccinations against coronaviruses going into the future,” he said. “That, of course, remains to be seen, but that’s my bet at the moment.”
That means research teams will need to develop a seasonal coronavirus vaccine. Bell is part of the Oxford team that began testing a vaccine in a clinical trial and is aiming to have a vaccine available for distribution by September.
So far, the team has already given the vaccine to 1,000 people, he said Sunday, as well as preclinical trials in mice, ferrets and monkeys. The scientists have scheduled tests for 6,000 people by the end of May and hope to enroll enough people to know whether it’s effective by this summer.
This week, he expects the primate data to be released, calling it an “important milestone.” Then they’ll monitor the efficacy of the vaccine in humans, and they’ll move clinical trials overseas if they don’t have enough COVID-19 cases in the UK to test.
“We’ve got sites already in play in other bits of the world where it’s active,” Bell said. “We’re pretty sure we’ll get a signal by June about whether this works or not.”
As of Monday, there were 3,534,367 confirmed cases worldwide and 248, 164 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. In the United States, there were 1,161,804 cases and 67,800 deaths.