The pioneering study by a group of researchers at Imperial College London is focusing on a vaccine which can be produced at a rapid rate, using equipment bought off the shelf. Miniscule amounts of ribonucleic acid (RNA) are contained in each dose. About a thousandth of a thousandth of a gram of the genetic material would be injected into the muscle tissue of a patient.
Robin Shattock, a professor of mucosal infection and immunity at Imperial, is leading the project.
He told The Times: “It really is a tiny dose.
“That’s very good from a safety point of view but also in terms of production — it makes it much easier to scale up.”
He said a litre of RNA could be enough for about 200 million vaccines.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Prof Shattock warned about the cons of rapidly producing a vaccine.
He said: “One of the issues is that if you rush into delivering a vaccine after studying for a few months, you will only know it is protective for a few months.
“By the time you get to a year, you know if it is protective for a year.”
He said further down the line his team would provide a “booster” to the vaccine if there is a demand.
“With our vaccine, we can provide a boost response, so we can provide an annual booster if necessary,” he explained.
The human trials come as retail stores across England are expected to throw open their doors today.
Hairdressers, cafes and pubs could follow suit as early as the second week in July – but only if social distancing rules can be maintained.
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8.09am update: Government urged to issue guidance for hospitality sector ahead of reopening
Shadow business minister Lucy Powell has welcomed the reopening of shops in England but called on the Government to provide guidance on how the hospitality sector can restart.
She told BBC Breakfast: “The issue that we’re most worried about at the moment is hospitality, hairdressers, beauticians and others are supposed to be reopening in two-and-a-half, three weeks time, and they don’t have yet any of the guidelines that they’re going to need to be able to set up their businesses and reopen their businesses in the way that retailers have today.
“This is now becoming a really urgent issue and the Government need to get on and produce that guidance which they had promised would be produced today, but now we’re seeing there’s going to be some further review of guidance before that time.”