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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, perhaps the most promising candidate currently in development, appears to be safe and produces an immune response, according to preliminary findings published in The Lancet.

Why it matters: The race is on to get a vaccine approved and into circulation. A separate report published today finds that a Chinese candidate also produces an immune response, while American biotech firm Moderna revealed last week that its candidate produces a strong immune response.

State of play: The Oxford vaccine is in phase three trials, the last step before possible approval. According to the Economist, it could be cleared for emergency use as early as October.

  • Moderna's vaccine is moving into phase three now, while another candidate from Pfizer is believed to be relatively close behind.
  • China has at least six candidates currently in trials, one of which is in phase three.
  • Russia says a candidate from its state-run Gamaleya Institute will enter phase three trials next month.
  • According to the Milken Institute's tracker, there are 197 candidate vaccines in development, 19 of which are in some stage of clinical trials.

What to watch: While it seems increasingly likely that a vaccine will be available by early next year — the timeline suggested by Anthony Fauci — it remains unclear who will get it first.

  • The U.K. announced today that it had bought up millions of doses not only of the Oxford vaccine, but of candidates from France and Germany.
  • That's another sign that this could play out as a bidding war, rather than the sort of equitable distribution European leaders have discussed.
  • President Trump, meanwhile, has at times described the vaccine race in America First terms. The U.S. is pouring billions of dollars into developing and manufacturing vaccines and expects to claim millions of doses if and when they are approved.

Go deeper

Oct 27, 2020 - World

Putin mandates face masks as Russia combats second COVID-19 wave

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday instituted a nationwide mask mandate, as the nation tries to combat a second spike of COVID-19 cases, according to an order published by Rospotrebnadzor, the federal health watchdog agency.

By the numbers: Russia currently has the fourth-most coronavirus cases in the world, with 1,537,142, according to Johns Hopkins data, behind the U.S., India and Brazil. Russia has reported 26,092 deaths to date.