Nearly eight months after the first case of the coronavirus was reported in China in December 2019, researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom have inched closer to developing a vaccine. The much-anticipated vaccine, to help address the ongoing pandemic that is estimated to have killed over half-a-million people across the world, is ‘safe and well tolerated’, preliminary results have found.
On Monday, The Lancet, a leading general medical journal, reported that preliminary results from a Phase I/II trial involving 1,077 healthy adults found that the vaccine induced strong antibody and T-cell immune responses up to Day 56 of the ongoing trial. “These responses may be even greater after a second dose, according to a sub-group study of 10 participants,” the journal reported.
The vaccine, named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, “showed an acceptable safety profile, and homologous boosting increased antibody responses. These results, together with the induction of both humoral and cellular immune responses, support large scale evaluation of this candidate vaccine in an ongoing phase 3 programme.”
Researchers of the first-in-human clinical trial noted, “Immunisation with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 results in rapid induction of both humoral and cellular immune responses against SARS-CoV-2, with increased responses after a second dose. Further clinical studies, including in older adults, should be done with this vaccine.”
However, Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University who heads vaccine research, said in a statement. “There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the COVID-19 pandemic, but these early results hold promise.”
“As well as continuing to test our vaccine in phase-three trials, we need to learn more about the virus - for example, we still do not know how strong an immune response we need to provoke to effectively protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection. If our vaccine is effective, it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale. A successful vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 could be used to prevent infection, disease and death in the whole population, with high-risk populations such as hospital workers and older adults prioritised to receive vaccination,” said the professor.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his congratulations to the scientists and researchers.
This is very positive news. A huge well done to our brilliant, world-leading scientists & researchers at @UniofOxford.— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) July 20, 2020
There are no guarantees, we’re not there yet & further trials will be necessary - but this is an important step in the right direction.https://t.co/PRUTu8rlPF