UK scientists are hopeful that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready as soon as September.
Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, says she is “80% confident” that a jab being developed by her team will be proved effective by the autumn.
The Times reports that human trials are set to begin on the vaccine in a fortnight, making it one of the most promising efforts in the world.
The UK government has also indicated that, if results look positive, it is prepared to fund millions of doses in advance.
This means that if the tests are successful, an immunisation against Covid-19 would be widely available to the public immediately.
With medical experts fearing that lifting lockdown measures will lead to a fresh surge in infections, a return to normal life relies heavily on finding a vaccine that works.
Although it has been estimated this will take 18 months, Professor Gilbert has said that in a best-case scenario her team could have one ready by September.
She had previously said she hoped it could be developed by the end of the year.