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Scientists at Oxford University began human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine. The trial will consist of around 1,110 test subjects, half of them will be injected with the potential Covid-19 vaccine and the other half will receive a regularly available meningitis vaccine. The volunteers will not know which vaccine they receive.

The vaccine has gone to human trials incredibly quickly, the team at Oxford have been able to develop the vaccine in under three months. The team were able to utilise their previous research of Mers, another type of coronavirus, to create this Covid-19 vaccine. They were able to apply the same techniques to their Covid-19 research which sped up the process considerably. It has been estimated that a vaccine for Covid-19 could take 12-18 months to be available. The Oxford team has been able to shorten this time by using the same platform for the Mers vaccine they developed in the past.

The length of time for the vaccine to become available can also be shortened by beginning the manufacturing of the vaccine before the human trials are complete. This is only done when scientists are very confident in the vaccine they have created. This technique is occasionally seen outside of times of crisis when a pharmaceutical company is confident in the vaccine or drug they have created. In those cases, starting manufacturing at the same time as human trials is a financial gamble but one that is only made if they are very optimistic that it will pay off. In the case of the Oxford vaccine, the team has said they expect to have 1 million doses by September and, assuming it is a success, production will increase as the human trials progress.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the leader of the Oxford University team, said, “Personally, I have a high degree of confidence in the vaccine”. “Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to demonstrate it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wide population.” Professor Gilbert previously said she was “80% confident” in the vaccine but now says she doesn’t want to give a number. She said she is “very optimistic” about it.

The initial volunteers are going to be monitored very closely to check for any side-effects of the vaccine. The volunteers have been warned that they could experience headaches or fevers for the first two days after the vaccination. If the first stage of the trial is successful, a larger trial with about 5,000 volunteers will begin. As the trials progress, the Oxford scientists could consider using healthcare workers as volunteers since they are the most likely to be exposed to the virus. However, they are being very careful about putting health workers at risk and that would likely come after the first tests have been successful.

Questions have been raised over who would get the vaccine first. Professor Gilbert said it was not for them to decide who gets the vaccine first. She said the job of her team was to get a working vaccine and to get a large enough quantity of it to start treating people. Professor Pollard of the Oxford team said, “We’ve got to ensure we have enough doses to provide for those in greatest need, not just in the UK but also in developing countries.”

Difficult words

Trial (n): A test.

Consist (v): to be made up of, include.

Inject (v): To use a thin device to place something into a small space.

Pharmaceutical (adj): Relating to medicine or drugs.

Initial (adj): Occurring in the beginning.

Monitor (v): To watch carefully.

Side-effect (n): Effects of medicine.

Ensure (v): To make sure something happens.

Dose (n): A quantity of medicine.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Match the Synonym!

1. Trial A. Insert
2. Consist B. Watch
3. Inject C. Beginning
4. Pharmaceutical D. Effects of medicine.
5. Initial E. Test
6. Monitor F. Make sure.
7. Side-effect G. Contain
8. Ensure H. Amount of medicine.
9. Dose I. Medicine

True or False?

1. Scientists at a hospital in Oxford have been testing a potential  Covid-19 vaccine. T / F

2. 100% of the test subjects will receive the vaccine. T / F

3. The volunteers won’t know if they get the coronavirus vaccine or not. T / F

4. The researchers were testing similar viruses before.  T / F

5.  The vaccine could be made available within 2 months. T / F

6. The manufacturing process has begun before the testing is complete. T / F

7.  The scientists at Oxford say they could have more than 2 million vaccines ready by September. T / F

8.  The leader of the Oxford University team said she is 100% confident in the vaccine. T / F

9. A larger test of 5,000 volunteers will be done if the first one is successful. T / F

10.  Professor Gilbert said it is her job to decide who gets the vaccine first. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. will / of / subjects / consist / The / around / 1,110 test / trial

2. volunteers / receive / will / which / vaccine / they / The / not / know

3. gone / incredibly / human / trials / to / quickly / The / vaccine / has

4. of / occasionally / of / times / is / crisis / seen / technique / This / outside

5. initial / monitored / very closely / volunteers / The / going / to / are / be

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Considerably Vaccine Utilise
Raised Manufacturing Potential
Demonstrate Volunteers Length

Scientists at Oxford University began human trials of a (1)___________ Covid-19 vaccine. The trial will consist of around 1,110 test subjects, half of them will be injected with the potential Covid-19 vaccine and the other half will receive a regularly available meningitis vaccine. The volunteers will not know which vaccine they receive.

The vaccine has gone to human trials incredibly quickly, the team at Oxford have been able to develop the vaccine in under three months. The team were able to (2)__________ their previous research of Mers, another type of coronavirus, to create this Covid-19 vaccine. They were able to apply the same techniques to their Covid-19 research which sped up the process (3)________________. It has been estimated that a vaccine for Covid-19 could take 12-18 months to be available. The Oxford team has been able to shorten this time by using the same platform for the Mers vaccine they developed in the past.

The (4)___________ of time for the vaccine to become available can also be shortened by beginning the manufacturing of the vaccine before the human trials are complete. This is only done when scientists are very confident in the vaccine they have created. This technique is occasionally seen outside of times of crisis when a pharmaceutical company is confident in the vaccine or drug they have created. In those cases, starting (5)________________ at the same time as human trials is a financial gamble but one that is only made if they are very optimistic that it will pay off. In the case of the Oxford vaccine, the team has said they expect to have 1 million doses by September and, assuming it is a success, production will increase as the human trials progress.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the leader of the Oxford University team, said, “Personally, I have a high degree of confidence in the vaccine”. “Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to (6)_______________ it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wide population.” Professor Gilbert previously said she was “80% confident” in the vaccine but now says she doesn’t want to give a number. She said she is “very optimistic” about it.

The initial volunteers are going to be monitored very closely to check for any side-effects of the (7)____________. The volunteers have been warned that they could experience headaches or fevers for the first two days after the vaccination. If the first stage of the trial is successful, a larger trial with about 5,000 volunteers will begin. As the trials progress, the Oxford scientists could consider using healthcare workers as (8)______________ since they are the most likely to be exposed to the virus. However, they are being very careful about putting health workers at risk and that would likely come after the first tests have been successful.

Questions have been (9)__________ over who would get the vaccine first. Professor Gilbert said it was not for them to decide who gets the vaccine first. She said the job of her team was to get a working vaccine and to get a large enough quantity of it to start treating people. Professor Pollard of the Oxford team said, “We’ve got to ensure we have enough doses to provide for those in greatest need, not just in the UK but also in developing countries.”

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Do you think there will be a vaccine soon?
5. Who do you think should get the vaccine first?
6. How should it be decided who gets the vaccine first?
7. Should a vaccine created in one country be shared with every other country?
8. Should people stay inside until there is a vaccine?
9. Should the vaccine be free?
10. Do you know of any Covid-19 vaccine research in your country?
11. Do you think life can go back to normal before there is a vaccine?
12. Is there an anti-vaccination movement in your country?
13. Do you think it is dangerous to do human trials this early?
14. Would you volunteer for the human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine?
15. Should healthcare workers have the vaccine tested on them first?
16. Do people trust Science in your country?
17. What scientific achievements have been made in your country?
18. How is your country fighting the virus?
19. How seriously are people taking the coronavirus pandemic in your country?
20. What question would you like to ask the team of scientists at Oxford University?