UNIVERSITY of Oxford researchers have published a blueprint for making millions of doses of a new vaccine within 100 days.

The university’s vaccine manufacturing research team says the new methods could enable clinical trials within 60 days of identification of a new virus.

The work was published in a pre-print paper, showing the feasibility of a change in the speed and volume of production of adenovirus-vectored vaccines against new virus variants or other future pandemics.

Researchers believe their work could enable Oxford’s ChAdOx vaccines – such as the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid jab – to hit the ‘moonshot’ objective set earlier this year by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

This aims to help reduce vaccine development timelines to 100 days, from identification of a virus to mass production.

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The paper, which has not been peer reviewed, sets out how quickly it would be possible to manufacture a new adenovirus-vectored vaccine at large scale.

Dr Sandy Douglas, who leads the vaccine manufacturing research group at the Jenner Institute, said: “When a new virus is identified, vaccine production is a race against time.

“Some people think that adenovirus-vectored vaccines are slow to manufacture – and that’s just not true.

“The process of bulk manufacturing, filling into vials, and testing takes pretty much the same length of time for most vaccines.

“The thing that can vary is how long it takes to prepare to start manufacturing.

“For an adenovirus-vectored vaccine, the key bit of preparation which is needed is to make a ‘seed’ virus.

“That’s the only thing that needs to change to make a new vaccine – so we’ve looked carefully at how to make that seed quickly.

“In a pandemic, saving a few days could save many lives.”

In the paper, most of the viral seed production described involves ‘tried and tested’ methods.

According to the researchers, simple enhancements have allowed the acceleration of the process.

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Dr Douglas said: “Manufacturing should no longer be a problem in hitting this goal.

“Vaccine developers now need to focus on how to accelerate the other critical steps, especially early financial decision making and clinical trials.”

The paper also describes how bulk manufacturing could be modified in the future to approximately quadruple the rate of vaccine production from each vaccine factory.

If factories were on standby to use this method, the team believes a billion doses of vaccines could be supplied within 130 days of identification of a new virus – a quarter of the time taken by the leading Covid vaccines.

The new process uses a method called perfusion, which the academics say is like giving the manufacturing process a kidney.

This is because it allows the removal of waste products which can slow down vaccine production.

Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute, said: “When CEPI set its objective to compress vaccine development timelines to 100 days, it rightly called this a ‘moonshot’.

“What’s remarkable is that this team has shown this could be achieved with a type of vaccine that many thought would never be able to be produced so fast.

“They have found a way to make our vaccines travel even faster from the laboratory to the field, without any compromise to safety. It is game-changing work.”

The pre-print has been submitted to bioRxiv, an online archive and distribution service for unpublished pre-prints in the life sciences.