Covid vaccine trials: What are the results of the Oxford trial?

Wednesday, 22 Jul, 2020

In May this year, the Trump administration awarded the Oxford-AstraZeneca partnership $1.2 billion as part of "Operation Warp Speed", to have a widely-available COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. by January 2021.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) will soon apply to the Indian regulator for the licensure trials of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.

The company had on Wednesday started clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate with the first human dosing.

A Christchurch expert advising on trials for a leading Covid-19 vaccine says new results showing the vaccine triggers a strong immune response are promising.

Study enrollment took place between April 23 and May 21, and included 1,077 participants from 18 to 55 years old who had not previously tested positive for the coronavirus. "In addition, the strongest immune responses were produced in 10 participants who received two doses of the vaccine, indicating that this might be a good strategy for vaccination", said Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial.

Oxford University researchers have partnered with drugs giant AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, to mass-produce it.

The study doesn't reveal any serious adverse reactions, which is an encouraging result.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), researchers said volunteers who got two doses of the vaccine had high levels of antibodies which exceeded those seen in patients who have recovered from Covid. It has said it will not seek to profit from the vaccine during the pandemic. The Pfizer-BioNTech candidate is an RNA vaccine.

What are the next challenges next?

In SARS-CoV-2, antibodies are known to fade between three-six months, as reported by various studies, he said. "Sometimes, that correlates with protection in vaccines". It's the T-cell response measured in this study that he finds the most compelling and makes these researchers "ahead of the game".

"The company is open to exploring partnerships with pharma companies across geographies, however it may be too premature to comment on this at this point in time", he added. So far, commitments to supply more than 2 billion doses of the vaccine have been agreed with the UK, US, Europe's Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and Serum Institute of India.

ICMR and Bharat Biotech are jointly working for the preclinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine.

The results were encouraging, he said, but more work was needed to show it could protect people against developing Covid-19.

Early data from these trials has been shared with the University of Oxford.

The trial would be conducted in seven hospitals specialising in treating novel coronavirus infections in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, an ICDDR, B official said on the condition of anonymity.