At lunch break on Tuesday, Sir John Bell received a call informing him that the groundbreaking Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial would, regretfully, be stopped briefly. Hours later on, news of an immediate examination into an “unusual disease” in one of the trial volunteers started spreading out across the world. It was, as White House advisor Anthony Fauci described it, “regrettable”.
If the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Firm returns and states it’s all over, “then it’s all over”, states Sir John, the Federal government’s leading life sciences adviser. “That’s simply the method the video game works.”
But the 68-year-old Canadian, who rests on the UK’s vaccine taskforce, doesn’t appear anxious. “When I got the call from Andrew Pollard [who leads the project], I told him look, fine, this stuff happens in clinical trials all the time. Individuals who don’t do clinical trials see it and believe, this is a disaster. But, when you’ve got so many people in the study, it’s actually not extremely surprising to be sincere.”
Sir John has more experience in this location than many. As one of the world’s top immunologists and Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine, he understands how these things can go.The majority of vaccines take around 8 years to establish. “And we’ve been at this for simply eight months.”
Check out the full interview by Hannah Boland here.