SCIENTISTS in Oxford are working to produce the first batch of a coronavirus vaccine for clinical testing.

The Jenner Institute at Oxford University has agreed a contract with Italian manufacturer Advent Srl.

The vaccine ‘seed stock’ is currently being produced at the university’s Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility, and will be transferred to Advent which will initially produce 1,000 doses for the first clinical trials of the vaccine.

The Jenner Institute has been working on a vaccine against another coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has been shown to induce strong immune responses against MERS after a single dose of the vaccine in the first clinical trial which took place in Oxford.

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A second clinical trial of the MERS vaccine is underway in Saudi Arabia, which is where most MERS cases have occurred.

The same approach to making the vaccine is being taken for the novel coronavirus vaccine.

Professor Sarah Gilbert of the Jenner Institute said: "Novel pathogens such as nCoV-19 require rapid vaccine development.

"By using technology that is known to work well for another coronavirus vaccine we are able to reduce the time taken to prepare for clinical trials.

"Advent are working with us to move as rapidly as possible."