ES News email

Safety is “top of the list” when it comes to developing a Covid-19 vaccine, the professor leading the Oxford vaccine group has said.

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, who is leading the bid to find a jab, said no corners were being cut when it came to ensuring that a vaccine was safe.

It comes after the clinical trial into the Oxford jab was paused last week after a patient fell ill. It has since resumed.

Asked what message she wanted to give the millions of people waiting for a vaccine, Prof Gilbert told the BBC’s The Life Scientific podcast: “I suppose what I’d like them to understand is there are a lot of people working very, very hard on this – and always putting safety at the top of the list.

“Safety is always paramount in the vaccine development that we do and we need to take our time to go through the process of testing the vaccine properly.

“I know people are impatient to know the results but we can’t get the result without doing these very careful clinical studies.

“And then we will report on the results, and then hopefully we’ll be able to move forward and start getting people vaccinated.”

Prof Gilbert said there was a need to “temper people’s expectations somewhat” about a timeline for final delivery, saying there was still a lot of work to do to set up vaccination clinics and think about transporting a vaccine around the world.

“It’s not going to be as it is in the movies where there’s some kind of breakthrough and then suddenly the entire world is protected, there’s a lot of hard work still to be done,” she said.

She said it was “really important” to run the clinical trials properly.

“Although the clinical trials got started up quickly and then progressed rapidly, we haven’t missed out any of these steps in the approvals of the safety oversight of those trials,” she said.

“Everything is being done, as it should be done, it’s been done faster than usual because we’ve been able to take out some of the gaps that normally occur, but we’re not cutting any steps out.”