COVID-19, a fast-spreading pandemic, still has no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease. However, scientists, researchers, and doctors all over the world are racing to develop effective treatment and antidote for the infectious respiratory illness that is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and has so far claimed more than 134,000 lives.

After months of struggling with the pandemic, there is some good news at last. Scientists at Oxford University are reportedly reaching the stage where they will soon begin human trials of their coronavirus vaccine. According to Independent, the trial of the potential coronavirus vaccine is set to begin next week. It is said that depending on the results of the trial, the vaccine can be released for emergency use by autumn.

So far, the researchers from the England-based university have carried out trials on several animal species and the results are apparently promising. Meanwhile, Oxford's vaccine is one of the many potential candidates being developed across the globe. As per the report, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed near to 70 vaccines in development for COVID-19 from various parts of the world.

However, the experts and researchers suggest that the development of a suitable anti-viral could take at least 18 months.

Meanwhile, the Oxford researchers will be collaborating with a group of researchers in the United States and China as they kickstart their human trials. The experiment will reportedly be conducted on 510 persons belonging to the age group of 18 to 55 years.

"We are going into human trials next week. We have tested the vaccine in several different animal species. We have taken a fairly cautious approach, but a rapid one to assess the vaccine that we are developing," said Professor Adrian Hill, the lead researcher of the study.

In addition, Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinologist at the university believes that there is an "80 percent" chance of success for this vaccine.

If the trials are successful, the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group's potential candidate could be made available by September. Nevertheless, the team is still looking for funds to fast track the process.

Speaking to BBC World Service, Prof. Hill voiced his concerns about fundraising and how important it is to make the vaccine available in large numbers at the earliest.

"We're a university, we have a very small in-house manufacturing facility that can do dozens of doses. That's not good enough to supply the world, obviously. We are working with manufacturing organisations and paying them to start the process now. So by the time July, August, September comes - whenever this is looking good - we should have the vaccine to start deploying under emergency use recommendations," Prof. Hill said as quoted by Independent.

Novel coronavirus
A man in a facemask stands on his balcony in Havana, Cuba. Photo: AFP / YAMIL LAGE

As of Thursday, COVID-19 has more than 2,000,000 confirmed cases across the globe, making the US the epicentre with nearly 644,000 cases and close to 30,000 deaths.