Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial triggers immune response; may be able to use early 2021

The results of a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, in conjunction with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, produced strong immune results and appears to be safe, according to research published on Monday by the Lancet Medical Journal.

The trial, which began in April and involved 1,077 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55 years old, showed that the injection triggered T-cells and antibody responses that can fight COVID-19.

Volunteers injected with a second dose of the vaccine appeared to benefit the most from the trials.

“We saw the strongest immune response in the 10 participants who received two doses of the vaccine, indicating that this might be a good strategy for vaccination,” said professor Andrew Pollard, Chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial at Oxford University and co-author of the study.

A senior British official from the UK government called the results “extremely encouraging.” The UK government already ordered 100 million doses of this new vaccine.

How safe is the vaccine?

While these results are promising, larger trials are now underway as researchers need time to ensure the vaccine is safe for use.

They do have some side-effects as 70 per cent of all participants developed headaches or fever after getting the injections. Researchers said this could, however, be managed with paracetamol.

The study is currently unable to indicate whether the vaccine can prevent people from becoming ill with or lessen their symptoms of COVID-19.

Among the 10,000 participants that will take part in the next phase of the vaccine in the UK, the trial is also being expanded to other countries, involving 30,000 people in the US, 2,000 in South Africa, and 5,000 in Brazil.

If effective, researchers aim to make at least two billion doses of the vaccine available globally by early 2021, financed and through a partnership with various manufacturers throughout the globe.

The US government has already invested US$1 billion into the vaccine trial.

“While there is more work to be done, today’s data increases our confidence that the vaccine will work and allow us to continue our plans to manufacture the vaccine at scale for broad and equitable access around the world,” said Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President of BioPharmaceuticals Research and Development at AstraZeneca.

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