The findings from a potential coronavirus vaccine trial have been celebrated, with Boris Johnson deeming it a ‘step in the right direction’.
Scientists at the University of Oxford have revealed they are currently working on a vaccine that is safe and induces an immune reaction.
Researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 with the World Health Organisation following the development of over 140 candidate vaccines.
Professor Sarah Gilbert from Oxford said that after intensive research they were ‘more than happy with the first results’.
She told the Guardian: “We’re really pleased that it seems to be behaving just as we thought it would do. We have quite a lot of experience of using this technology to make other vaccines, so we knew what we expected to see, and that’s what we have seen.”
While Boris Johnson explains this as ‘very positive news’ he added: “There are no guarantees, we’re not there yet and further trials will be necessary – but this is an important step in the right direction.”
Matt Hancock said: “Very encouraging news. We have already ordered 100 million doses of this vaccine, should it succeed.”
Despite this, Professor Gilbert and her colleagues will not predict when the vaccine will be available, explaining ‘none of us have a crystal ball’.
While the lockdown drastically reduced the circulation of COVID-19 and saved many lives it also made it very difficult to trial vaccines.
The study released the results on Monday, which involved 1,000 healthy volunteers half of which were given the vaccine and half were given meningitis vaccine.
The results were a ‘really important milestone’ according to Professor Andrew Pollard, lead author on the study.
He added: “We are seeing exactly the sort of immune responses we were hoping for, including neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses, which, at least from what we’ve seen in the animal studies, seem to be those that are associated with protection.
“We just don’t know what level is needed if you meet this virus in the wild, to provide protection, so we need to do the clinical trials and to work that out.”
Pollard added that researches should be able to find out this from the vaccine trails which will help vaccine developers.
He explained: “We don’t know what high is. We’ve got immune responses that we can measure, we can see the virus being neutralised when the antibodies are tested in the laboratory, but we don’t know how much is needed. I mean it’s encouraging but it’s only the first milestone on this long path.”
While some scientists are hopeful that a vaccine could be ready by autumn, others have avoided speculation over when it could be available at this early stage.
Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, which is the pharmaceutical company that developed the vaccine alongside the Oxford scientists, has said that if successful, the vaccine could be distributed as early as the end of 2020.
He told reporters: “We’re working as quickly as we can but of course there are things that we cannot control, in particular the infection rate in the community which influences the results. We’re basically starting the manufacturing process in parallel to running the clinical trials.
“Our hope is that we can actually start delivering the vaccine before the end of the year, and how early before the end of the year depends really on infection rates in the community.”
This was backed up by Kate Bingham, the UK Vaccine Taskforce’s chairwoman, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ‘optimistically we will be vaccinating by the end of the year’, before adding that she wouldn’t ‘go to the bank on it yet’.
In an ideal world, the coronavirus vaccine will help fight any risk of infection however scientists have already accepted that instead, the vaccine will reduce the severity of the disease instead and in turn reduce the risk of death.
A further question is how long any immune response will last and how regularly people will need booster shots.
However, Gilbert explains that the work so far suggests this will not be a problem. The vaccine is delivered in an inactivated chimp adenovirus (similar to the common cold in humans) and there have been concerns that this might be recognised and rejected by the immune system.
“We actually show in the paper that there are some antibodies that develop against the vaccine vector itself – against the adenovirus – it doesn’t stop the vaccine from boosting,” she said.
There are also other questions as to the success rate of the vaccine on older adults. Safety trials have already begun in two groups of adults, one in 56-69 and the other in over-70s, says Gilbert.
“The immune system has two ways of finding and attacking pathogens – antibody and T-cell responses. This vaccine is intended to induce both, so it can attack the virus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attacking infected cells,” said Pollard.
“We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period. However, we need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against Sars-CoV-2 infection, and for how long any protection lasts.”
Other scientists have cautiously welcomed the study in a similar response to a second paper published in Lancet which showed trials of Wuhan of a vaccine developed in China. This used a similar process, using a human adenovirus vector showed it was also safe and generated an immune response.
Head of global policy and advocacy at the research charity Welcome Trust, Alex Harris said the Oxford University result was “just one crucial step but it’s very encouraging, and builds on the incredible global research effort during this crisis.
“To see promising results from several candidates in months is remarkable, but we must also be prepared for some candidates to fail in the later stages and be realistic about time frames for manufacturing and roll-out.”
Mum-of-two raffles off stunning £600k five-bedroom house and Ferrari for just £2
Wait until you see inside the stunning house
After spending nearly a year locked down in our homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all thought about moving house at some point, just for a change of scenery.
Well, if you are thinking about moving somewhere a bit bigger, then we’ve got just the thing for you – a stunning £590,000 bespoke five-bedroom house.
And in even better news, you could grab this beautiful house for just £2, as owners Jennifer and David Matthews are raffling off the property, and are throwing in their Ferrari as well.
The couple built Bramble Lodge – which is located between Bolton and Chorley, near to Adlington – from scratch eight years ago, but now want to sell up and move on.
They came to the difficult decision of selling their ‘dream home’ as they need a more manageable property to clean and run, because of Jennifer’s health condition.
Known as Ventricular tachycardia, it’s an incurable heart condition that causes a fast, abnormal heart rate, and means the mum-of-two could die at any moment.
However, the coronavirus crisis has made it very difficult to sell the property, which is why they decided to try their luck on popular raffle site Raffall.
This is good news for anyone dreaming of moving into a huge, new family home, as the keys to the five-bedroom detached house – which is worth over half a million and is located in a sought-after postcode – could be yours for as little as £2.
Bramble Lodge is set in its own grounds, hidden away behind a dry stone wall with electric gates for maximum privacy and security, and surrounded by stunning gardens, complete with trees and even a swing.
There’s lots of parking space, with the large drive able to accommodate four cars, which will include the 2004 Ferrari 360 Spider that you claim alongside the house if you win.
Once inside, there are three beautiful reception rooms and a huge kitchen area with a breakfast bar and an even an Aga.
Head up the elegant spiral staircase to five double sized bedrooms, including one with an en-suite and slipper bath. The second bedroom has a stunning feature window with the staircase to the kitchen area.
The area – once home to Ryan Giggs – boasts outstanding primary schools, a nearby train station with trains to Manchester, has good motorway links, and is also close to the award-winning The Cherry Tree at Blackrod.
The Matthews need to sell all the tickets on Raffall by February 14th, or the raffle will end before that if the last ticket sells before that date.
The lucky winner will be chosen at random, so make sure you grab your ticket or tickets ASAP, as they’re sure to sell quickly.
You can find out more and grab a ticket on the Raffall site here – good luck!
Car swallowed by sinkhole in Manchester after the city is battered by rain and snow
‘Cars getting swallowed now’
A car was partially swallowed up by a sinkhole on a Manchester street last night, after the city was battered with torrential rain and snow.
The weather was relentless yesterday, with heavy rain leading to rivers around our region reaching dangerous levels, followed by snow in the evening.
To top it off, a large crater appeared on a residential street in Gorton yesterday evening, with a car falling into it.
The sinkhole was spotted on Walmer Street in Abbey Hey, with the road surface looking like it ‘buckled’ leaving a roughly four square metre hole.
People took to social media to share photos of the car, which has now been removed.
The street was then partly cordoned off by emergency services, who remained at the scene last night, with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and GMP attending.
Surveyors were also on hand to assess the area for structural damage to surrounding houses, although no further details have been released yet about the cause of the sinkhole.
Around 3,000 properties at risk of flooding tonight in Greater Manchester as heavy rain continues
Stay safe out there everyone
As Storm Christoph continues to batter Greater Manchester, some areas of south Manchester and Trafford are at risk of flooding tonight.
Around 3,000 properties will be at risk this evening, according to the police, as authorities continue to monitor the rainfall and its impact on our rivers – with several warnings already issued.
Speaking at Andy Burnham’s press conference earlier this afternoon, Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey detailed the latest information.
According to him, the areas most at risk across Greater Manchester will be those near the River Mersey, specifically Didsbury, Northenden, Sale, and potentially parts of Stretford and Flixton.
ACC Bailey said: “As we speak, residents across those areas are being contacted by the Environment Agency and local authorities to advise them.
“Alerts have already been put out, people there are being advised to consider evacuation procedures should that happen.
“We are going to start to see the overflow contingency provisions at around 5pm. That will reach a peak at around 11pm this evening where we will see flooding of those areas.
“In its worst-case scenario, estimated by the Environment Agency, that could impact on up to 3,000 properties across all the areas.
“This is a significant incident in terms of disruption to population.”
ACC Nick Bailey went on to say that those 3,000 properties might not need to evacuate, adding that authorities will be working ‘right up to the last minute’ to try and prevent that from happening.
In the meantime, Manchester and Trafford councils have been setting up rest centres for anyone who does need to evacuate, and police have confirmed that Covid restrictions do not apply in an evacuation situation – you should leave your home if necessary.
ACC Bailey added: “Those people have been advised with regards of advice to take where they do feel the need to take action to prevent them being harmed.
“We need to make sure they do take that action, they do make sure they’re safe. The legislation around covid will not be applied there are exemptions.
“If you need to take action, join other bubbles go other properties, please do that if that’s necessary to do that to protect you and your family.”
If you’re worried about the situation you can contact your local authority, however if it’s an emergency dial 999.
Stay safe out there everyone!