Early results show Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine promising
Early-stage clinical trials of the University of Oxford-based COVID-19 vaccine was reported July 20 to be safe and induces an immune reaction.
The research published in The Lancet medical journal shows the vaccine generated neutralizing antibodies and triggered solid T-cell immune responses, which is the body’s natural immune response of producing white blood cells to defend from extrinsic elements.
So far there were no reports of any serious side effects.
“So we’ve now seen exactly the sort of immune responses that we hoped to see, but we now need to do the rigourous studies to show that the vaccine is protective against the virus in humans,” said Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity and the chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial at the University of Oxford.
The vaccine from AstraZeneca, the project’s vaccine manufacturing and distribution partner, and the University of Oxford is called AZD1222.
“Vaccines are absolutely the way out of the pandemic and this is a really important moment because it shows that we can make the robust immune responses which we hope will relate to protection in the future,” Pollard said.
AstraZeneca said in a press release it anticipates the expenses to develop it to be offset by funding by governments and international organizations.
“We are encouraged by the Phase I/II interim data showing AZD1222 was capable of generating a rapid antibody and T-cell response against SARS-CoV-2,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca.
The British neuroscientist was awarded a knighthood for his services to U.K. science in December last year.
“While there is more work to be done, today’s data increases our confidence that the vaccine will work and allows us to continue our plans to manufacture the vaccine at scale for broad and equitable access around the world,” he said.
“If we can get an effective vaccine, we will be able to vaccinate very large numbers of people because we can manufacture this vaccine at scale and that will allow people to get back to normal life hopefully after they are vaccinated so that people come out of lockdown,” said Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research at the University of Oxford and team-member of the Oxford research group.
The vaccine, if successful, will mean people won’t need to wear masks, and allow economic activity to be restored back to hopefully near-normal levels, he said.
“People who’re thinking there’ll be a vaccine by Christmas are wrong,” WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said in an exclusive interview with Humber News.
Harris said she is hopeful the new coronavirus can be stopped even without a vaccine.
“We will be vaccinating ideally if we get a vaccine that is proven to be successful possibly next year but even then all the public health interventions we know that work must be applied,” Harris said.
“We cannot rely on a vaccine as the only thing that will end this outbreak,” she said.
With files from Reuters.