Astra Zeneca shares surge on hopes of positive covid vaccine from project with Oxford University

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Shares in drugs giant AstraZeneca surged 4% today on hopes of a breakthrough in its attempts to find a vaccine for covid-19.

The company's stock leaped 5% today after ITV reported that an announcement could come as soon as tomorrow on its work with the University of Oxford.

The potential vaccine is being tested on humans in what is known as Phase III trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

ITV reported that The Lancet was set to publish the results of its Phase I trial which would show how safe it is and whether it provokes an immune response to the virus.

ITV political editor Robert Peston said: "I am hearing there will be positive news soon (perhaps tomorrow) on initial trials of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine that is backed by AstraZeneca."

The Oxford-AZ trial is being run by the team of Professor Adrian Hill, who last week said he was hoping to deliver a vaccine by October. His team's jab is thought to be the furthest developed of dozens being worked on by scientists around the world.

A vaccine is seen as crucial to getting the UK and global economies restarted.

Hill's vaccine team led the first clinical trial of a vaccine aimed at controlling ebola in 2014 and his own work has developed a potential medicine currently being trialled in Africa to prevent malaria.

Last week, the Evening Standard revealed his post at the university had received a £3.5 billion donation from London billionaire Lakshmi Mittal.