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expert reaction to announcement of partnership between University of Oxford and AstraZeneca on the Oxford candidate vaccine

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have announced a partnership for the development and large-scale production of Oxford’s candidate vaccine for COVID-19.


Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said:

“The Oxford academics remain optimistic that they will have an effective vaccine scaled up and manufactured at a huge scale in just a few months.  This would be unprecedented, and faster than even the rapid approaches used to look at the Ebola vaccine candidates in West Africa in 2015.

“Thus, there is no real scientific reference point to think this definitely can happen – we can only watch on, and hope that the Oxford optimism comes to fruition.  It would certainly be an astonishing achievement.

“There will also be concerns about vaccine effectiveness.  For example, the first-generation of malaria vaccines (the subject of about 30 years of research) now being used in Africa have effectiveness of approximately 30-50% with immunity that wanes in a year or two.  It’s useful, but doesn’t eliminate the need for bed nets.  Conversely, the Ebola vaccine appears to have effectiveness of greater than 90%.  But the short summary is that first-generation products aren’t always the Holy Grail that is so urgently needed here with COVID-19.”


Prof Robin Shattock, Professor of Mucosal Infection and Immunity, Imperial College London, said:

“This is an encouraging development, we need to make sure UK vaccines are made readily available.”


Dr Charlie Weller, Wellcome’s Head of Vaccines, said:

“If we are to get the COVID-19 vaccine the world so desperately needs within a year, we need to start building manufacturing capacity now, so it’s very encouraging to see preparations underway.  But this effort must be global, not national.  As long as COVID-19 is out of control somewhere, it is a threat everywhere.

“Viruses know no borders, as COVID-19 has proven.  We need a vaccine that will work for the world, and any advances must be available to all countries equally, without exception.  The successful vaccine could come from anywhere – there are around 100 vaccines in development around the world.

“The clinical trials need to be run across the world, not just in high-income countries, to determine whether the vaccines are effective for everyone.  We need the highest levels of global co-ordination to ensure that we can select the strongest candidates.

“No matter where they are developed or who funds them, all tests, treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 need to be available and affordable to everyone in the world who needs them.  The only way out of this pandemic is by working together and ensuring all countries, especially those with more fragile health systems, have the tools and resources needed to tackle this.

“COVID-19 is a solvable problem, but there is an initial global funding shortfall of at least $8billion for development into vaccines, treatments and tests that needs to be filled urgently.  The world must be prepared to execute the largest and fastest scale up in vaccine manufacturing history.”


Dr June Raine, Chief Executive for the MHRA, said:

“The dedicated scientific advice and rapid approval of this important clinical trial demonstrate our commitment to working together to find a vaccine for this pandemic.

“We support the development and expedite authorisation of clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments, whilst maintaining our high regulatory standards to ensure safety of people involved in the trials.

“Protecting health and improving lives is at the forefront of our work, and we are committed to enabling the development of safe and effective vaccines or treatments for this virus.”

MHRA press release on the subject that has some background on our role in the process:


Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the UK Bioindustry Association, said:

“UK life sciences companies already working on key elements of manufacturing, through the BIA taskforce, look forward to working with AstraZeneca on the vital development and scale up of the Jenner COVID-19 vaccine. Their experience adds valuable industrial heft to this vital development programme.

“Any single development programme carries risk so it is vital the UK’s manufacturing capability is able to work at speed on whatever emerges as the most viable vaccine or therapeutic candidate.” 

BIA press release: 


Commenting on the suggestion that AstraZeneca want to be ready to launch and supply up to 100m doses by the end of the year (see

Prof David Salisbury FMedSci, Associate Fellow of the Centre on Global Health Security at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House, and Chair of the WHO Global Commission for Certification of Polio Eradication, and Former Director of Immunisation at DH, said:

“If the Oxford Vaccine is shown to be safe and effective by the end of the year, and the U.K. could access one hundred million doses at that time, then this would be of extraordinary importance in protecting our population (assuming that each person requires two doses).  If the U.K. only accessed fifty million doses by the same time, even that would be of huge benefit for the at risk individuals, health and social care and other essential service workers.  The challenge would then be for primary care, public health and occupational health services to administer the vaccine as fast as possible.”


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


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