Increase in UK cases makes decision on Oxford vaccine more likely before end of year as they can gather more data, says trial director

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The recent surge in coronavirus cases across the UK has made it more likely that researchers will be able to gather enough efficacy data for the Oxford University vaccine by the end of the year, a scientist leading the project has said.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, told a virtual conference that the phase three trial for the vaccine candidate was “going incredibly well” and moving “at pace”.

Once enough cases have been recorded among the programme’s 10,000 volunteers in the UK, scientists will then be able to ‘unblind the trial’ to see whether those infected with Covid-19 had been given a shot of AZD1222 or not.

These data, which will demonstrate the candidate’s efficaciousness, will then be presented to regulators to be approved, or rejected if there are questions over the findings.

Prof Pollard said it has “been relatively quiet since we started vaccinating” due to the national lockdown and subsequent suppression of cases within the community.

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