London, April 13: Professor Sarah Gilbert, an expert of mediconology at the University of Oxford, said she is confident of a vaccine for novel coronavirus being available by September this year. Her claims comes in contradiction of most pharmaceutical wizards predicting an 18-month time frame to find either a vaccine or a cure to the COVID-19 disease. COVID-19 Ten Times Worse Than Swine Flu, Vaccine Needed to Fully Halt Disease: WHO.

Gilbert, while speaking to BBC Radio on Monday, said trials are being conducted across the world at an "unprecedented rate". In the University of Oxford as well, the process to screen over 500 volunteers - aged between 18 to 55 - for the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine has been expedited, she said.

The manufacturers should be ready to produce the vaccine in bulk, she said, adding that billions across the globe would have to be vaccinated against the disease. The process to initiate manufacturing should not be kept on hold till the vaccine is confirmed to be successful, the professor added.

"We need to start manufacturing large amounts of the vaccine. It is not uncommon for companies to start manufacturing a new vaccine before they really know for certain it works”, she told the radio channel during the morning show.

The Oxford team, which was successful with its rapid vaccine response tests for Ebola in 2014, is hopeful of repeating the success with its coronavirus vaccine trials. The clinical tests are expected to begin next week, Gilbert said. She had last week told a leading magazine that her team is "80 percent sure" of developing the vaccine.

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic infected more than 1,900,000 persons by the time this report was published. The death toll climbed to 118,497. The worst-affected is the United States, where over 600,000 are infected and the death toll has crossed the 23,000-mark. Italy and Spain have recorded over 20,000 and more than 17,000 deaths, respectively.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 13, 2020 11:54 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website