Professor Luke O'Neill says he's hopeful there will be a 'big announcement' about a coronavirus vaccine in the weeks before Christmas.
The leading immunologist said there'll hopefully be news to give everyone 'a big lift' - although stressed there are still 'the usual caveats' when it comes to vaccine development.
There are now 11 potential vaccines in the crucial phase three of trials, with one being developed by pharmaceutical firm Pfizer now 'getting there ahead of others'.
Latest on vaccine trials. Russian/Chinese vaccines approved for limited use. Of those in Phase 3 Pfizer vaccine nudges ahead- saying it hopes to apply for approval late November. pic.twitter.com/tFIPqdauJV
— Luke O'Neill (@laoneill111) October 16, 2020
Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Prof O'Neill said scientists are expecting key data to emerge in the coming weeks.
He said: "At least three will read out in the next four-six weeks... in other words the results of these trials will be published, and we can see which one is working. Pfizer are getting there ahead of the others.
"The usual caveats - any might fall over at any time. Certainly it's full steam ahead and we've got to hope for the best.
"It'll be the couple of weeks before Christmas, I betcha, there will be a big announcement of some kind - that will give us a big lift, if all goes according to plan of course."
He said the scientist leading the Pfizer trial - Kathrin Jansen - is a 'rockstar' in the vaccine world.
He explained: "She developed the HPV vaccine... she's famous for making that vaccine and making it work. She knows everything there is to know about vaccines. She's in charge of the Pfizer programme - that gives you a bit of confidence as well.
"They all have great people, by the way."
He said he'd 'absolutely' be willing to take a vaccine by the likes of Pfizer or AstraZeneca when it's approved.
He said: "I'd go in the trial - I'm prepared to be tested upon as a guinea pig. I've worked with these companies for years... lots of connections to them.
"They're very zealous and very careful... I'd be first in line to take it. We all hopefully have to have that attitude."
Professor O'Neill was speaking today ahead of the Government's expected announcement of significant new coronavirus restrictions.
While non-essential retail is likely to close for several weeks, schools are set to remain open.
Professor O'Neill said it's important schools do remain, for reasons other than just the schools themselves.
He said: "If the schools close, that affects the essential workers who can't go to work because they've got to mind their children. There'd be a knock-on effects on hospital staffing if the schools close.
"It's not just about the schools - it's about society more broadly, and essential workers. We've got to hope the schools stay open.
"The mission of level four is to keep the schools open... let's hope the schools stay open."
He said he would be in favour of allowing two households to mix rather than none at all, as it would be 'less draconian'.
He observed: "No household mixing is the optimum here, and you don't want four or five households mixing, clearly.
"You should be able to go to see your mother, or two friends can mix.
"I don't see why they can't be slightly more considerate."
He said he's hopeful restrictions will naturally drive infection rates down - but the question remains whether they'll stay down once society reopens.