A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 333,000 people worldwide.
Over 5.1 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 94,729 deaths.
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Today’s biggest developments:
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.
5:05 a.m.: Researchers aim to vaccinate over 10,000 adults and children across UK
University of Oxford researchers testing an experimental vaccine against the novel coronavirus now aim to immunize more than 10,000 people to determine if it works.
Scientists at the oldest university in the English-speaking world began immunizing more than 1,000 healthy adult volunteers in southern England in April with their vaccine candidate in the initial phase of a clinical trial. The University of Oxford announced on Friday that its researchers are moving into advanced studies, which would enroll up to 10,260 adults and children across the United Kingdom.
“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 university’s Oxford Vaccine Group, said in a statement Friday.
The potential vaccine is made from a virus, which is a weakened version of a common cold that causes infections in chimpanzees, that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to replicate in humans. The harmless virus is used to carry the coronavirus spike protein into the body, according to the university.
Phase one of the human trials has been completed and follow-up is currently ongoing. The second phase will expand the age range of participants who receive the vaccine candidate to include a small number of older adults and children. Researchers will be assessing the immune response to the vaccine candidate in the different age groups to find out if there is variation in how well the immune system responds in older adults or children, the university said.
The third phase of the study involves assessing how the vaccine candidate works in a large number of people over the age of 18 to see how well it works to prevent them from becoming infected and unwell with COVID-19. Adult participants in both phase two and three will be randomized to receive one or two doses of either the vaccine candidate or a licensed meningitis vaccine that will be used as a “control” for comparison, according to the university.
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced earlier this week it had booked orders for at least 400 million doses of the potential vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford. The U.K.-based multinational company said it has the capacity to manufacture 1 billion doses of the as yet unproven vaccine and would begin delivering them in September.