Scientists working on a coronavirus vaccine at the University of Oxford say the jab is looking on course to be ready for at risk groups before Christmas.

Professor Adrian Hill, founder and director of the University's Jenner Institute, claims that the vaccine is to get approval ahead of the festive season so it can be used on medics and the elderly.

The vaccine will then be rolled out to the rest of the UK from early 2021, according to Professor Hill - reports Mirror Online.

According to the Daily Mail, while speaking online to members of Oxford's Magdalen College, Professor Hill said: “The initial licence would be for emergency use, not full approval.

“They will want to see more data on safety and maybe efficacy before they give a licence to vaccinate everybody.

In this country, our priorities are pretty clear... we're going to vaccinate high-risk individuals before we vaccinate the young, the fit and healthy who are at lower risk. I think most countries will do that.

“So what we're looking for this year is an 'emergency use' authorisation that will allow us to go and vaccinate those most at risk as a priority, then early next year everybody else.”

According to Professor Hill, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has been ‘fantastic’.

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He said: “That's why we say this is one of the best countries in the world to do clinical trials – we have a well-informed, sensible regulator that makes decisions on the basis of a risk-based analysis, rather than a set of dogmatic rules.”

The Oxford vaccine is currently undergoing Phase III trials on over 20,000 participants in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and Japan.

The vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is made from a virus ChAdOx1, which is a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees, that has been genetically changed so that it is possible to grow in humans.

The researchers explained: “By vaccinating with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, we are hoping to make the body recognise and develop an immune response to the Spike protein that will help stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering human cells and therefore prevent infection.”

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While Professor Hill is positive that the vaccine will be rolled out to the public from early 2021, Matt Hancock claims that the ‘bulk’ of the rollout will happen next summer.

The Health Secretary gave hope to those who are eyeing a return to normality after the long, dark winter by saying his "central expectation" is to be well under way by July.

Mr Hancock told the BBC: "We want to be ready in case everything goes perfectly but it's not my central expectation that we'll be doing that this year. The programme is progressing well, we're not there yet.

“On my central expectation, I would expect the bulk of the roll out to be in the first half of next year."