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‘The right thing to do’: The volunteers testing potential Covid-19 vaccine

Human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine have begun in Oxford, UK.
Human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine have begun in Oxford, UK. © AFP / FRANCE 24

The first two volunteers were injected with a potential new Covid-19 vaccine being trialled at Oxford University on Thursday. More than 1,000 have agreed to take part in the first phase of human trials, despite the possible risk of side effects.

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"I think you can never fully exclude any potential risk, but I think you have to walk in faith in these things, you have to trust that the work is being done as best they can, and know that the cause is important, so you just have to walk in faith in that,” said Edward O’Neill, a cancer researcher and one of the first two volunteers to receive the vaccine.

"It seems like the right thing to do, to ensure that we can combat this disease and get over it a lot faster," he told Reuters.

The Oxford team, who have already developed a vaccine against Mers, another type of coronavirus, are hoping successful trials will lead to a Covid-19 vaccine being made available to the public by the end of the year.

They say, however, that this timeframe is “highly ambitious”.

"Well personally I have a high degree of confidence about this vaccine because it is technology that we have used before,” University of Oxford vaccinologist Prof Sarah Gilbert, who is among those leading the research, told Reuters.

“Of course we have to test it, of course we have to get the data from humans. We have used the technology to make lots of different vaccines though.”

As many as 100 potential Covid-19 vaccines are now under development across the world and at least five have already moved to human trials.

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