A medical worker gives a volunteer a trial vaccine against COVID-19.
  • Andrew Pollard, who is leading clinical trials of Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine, said Wednesday there is a "small chance" the vaccine will be ready before December 25.
  • He said he's "optimistic" that the vaccine, developed by the university and drug company AstraZeneca, will have late-stage trial results before the end of the year.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the world's leading candidates.
  • It is one of two vaccine being constantly assessed — a so-called "rolling review" — by Europe's medicine regulator.
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Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine trial, said Wednesday there was a "small chance" the jab will be ready before December 25.

The vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is one of the world's leading vaccine candidates. 

Pollard told the UK's Science and Technology Committee he hoped the vaccine could have late-stage trial results before the end of 2020, per Sky News.

"I'm optimistic that we could reach that point before the end of this year," he said, adding that "there is a small chance" the vaccine would be ready by Christmas.

AstraZeneca's CEO Pascal Soriot said in September hat the company "could still have a vaccine by the end of this year."

No COVID-19 vaccine has yet been approved in the UK, but two are in late-stage clinical trials: the Oxford University vaccine, and one from German firm BioNtech and US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer. 

AstraZeneca's CEO Pascal Soriot told reporters at an event hosted by Tortoise Media on September 10 that it was "still feasible" for AstraZeneca's vaccine to be available by the end of 2020

"We could still have a vaccine by the end of this year, early next year," Soriot said. He added that the company aimed to have the manufacturing capacity to distribute the vaccine worldwide by early next year.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca have faced numerous hurdles since vaccine trials began.

Their late-stage Phase 3 study was paused on September 6, after a UK-based participant suffered "suspected serious adverse reaction," STAT reported. Trials resumed in the UK on September 12, and restarted in the US in late October.

A 28-year-old man in Brazil also died in a trial of the vaccine on October 22 from complications of COVID-19, Brazil's O Globo newspaper and CNN Brasil reported. The man was reportedly given a placebo, rather than the vaccine.

Coronavirus has killed more than 1.21 million people worldwide, and infected more than 47.5 million.

There are currently 241 research projects to develop a coronavirus vaccine, according to the World Health Organization.

Europe's drugs regulator started a "rolling review" of AstraZeneca and Oxford University's vaccine on October 1. The same happened to BioNTech and Pfizer's vaccine on October 6. This could mean the two candidates are the first to be approved in Europe.

The Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna said October 22 that it had finished enrolling more than 30,000 volunteers for a final clinical trial of its own vaccine. The company said it could have data showing whether or not its vaccine prevents symptomatic COVID-19 cases before the end of this year. 

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