Earlier this week, the U.K.'s Business Secretary Alok Sharma said that the Oxford vaccine trial, if successful, could deliver 30 million doses by September. "The clinical studies are progressing very well and we are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population", Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said in a statement cited by the news agency.
AstraZeneca says it will work with the World Health Organization to fairly distribute the vaccine around the world.
Since the new virus emerged in China late previous year, COVID-19 has spread around the world, infecting more than 5 million people and killing more than 300,000.
With leaders across the world surveying some of the worst economic destruction since at least World War Two and the deaths of more than 327,000 people, many are scrambling for a vaccine.
"It's not surprising a significant percentage of Americans are not going to take the vaccine because of the awful messaging we've had, the absence of a communication plan around the vaccine and this very aggressive anti-vaccine movement", said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is developing a vaccine.
The Oxford vaccine is called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.
"We are scaling up on a conservative basis of about 4 to 5 million doses a month to begin with", Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla told Reuters, adding the company was in discussions with AstraZeneca. The trials ale expected to be completed by early June.
Governments, drugmakers and researchers are working on around 100 programmes. The team will recruit 500 frontline staff, screening and vaccinating them, either with the COVID-19 candidate or with a meningitis vaccine used as a control in this randomised blind study.
Building on the group's success in recruiting volunteers to numerous studies mostly focused on respiratory infection predominately pneumonia and vaccines, communications have been sent out to all of the NHS Trusts within Merseyside as well as to CCGs, GPs and care homes asking for volunteers.
Other leading vaccine candidates, including one from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. and another by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, simply inject a piece of the coronavirus genetic code that instructs the body itself to produce spike protein that primes the immune system.