AS the Oxford Vaccine Group begins human trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, Bill Gates has said the world could need 14 billion doses to stop coronavirus for good.

The philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder said: “We need to manufacture and distribute at least seven billion doses of the vaccine.”

Speaking online on Thursday, the 64-year-old multibillionaire added that the number could rise to ‘14 billion, if it’s a multi-dose vaccine’.

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He stressed that people in lower-income countries be prioritised, along with medical staff, as they are the most ‘at risk’ from the virus.

He added: “Humankind has never had a more urgent task than creating broad immunity for coronavirus.

“We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible.”

Oxford University Vaccine
BREAKTHROUGH: Scientist Elisa Granato was the first person to be injected with the COVID-19 vaccine in the Oxford Vaccine Group’s human trials

Gates’ intervention comes as a major step towards a vaccine appeared to be underway at Oxford University.

Its independent research team, the Oxford Vaccine Group kicked off human trialing on its coronavirus vaccine on April 23, following successful tests on rhesus macaque monkeys.

Oxford’s ongoing trials for its hAdOx1 nCoV-19 coronavirus vaccine are not set to finish until September.

The vaccine is being produced by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, which produces 1.5 billion doses for various diseases every year.

Around 1,100 people are set to take part in this trial, which is partly funded by the British Government.

Oxford professor John Bell said: “We hope to get some signal about whether it’s working by the middle of June.”

Despite the activity in Oxford, Europe is lagging behind in terms of overall global research on a vaccine.

The main research areas are the US (46% of ongoing projects), Asia (38%), while Australia and Europe are each conducting 18% of current studies.

In terms of cash flow, 72% of vaccine efforts are privately funded, while universities are bankrolling 28% of studies.

There have been 3.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, while 1.4 million have been cured from the virus and 235,000 have died.

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