First human trial of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shows promise

Wednesday, 22 Jul, 2020

A coronavirus vaccine the University of Oxford is developing with AstraZeneca Plc showed promising results in early human testing, a sign of progress in the high-stakes pursuit of a shot to defeat the pathogen.

Trials involving 1,077 people showed the injection led to them making antibodies and white blood cells that can fight coronavirus.

The potential vaccine by Oxford is one of at least 100 being developed across the world for Covid-19, which has infected more than 14 million people worldwide and killed at least 606,206, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

"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", vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert said. It was found to be safe and produce an immune response in clinical testing in healthy volunteers, data showed on Monday, with the strongest response seen in people who received two doses.

Additionally, while some participants exhibited side effects, including "pain, feeling feverish, chills, muscle ache, headache and malaise", none of these represented what the researchers consider serious reactions, and these were also mitigated with use of paracetamol (standard painkillers available over the counter).

If the non-specific immune cells which respond to any invader instantly can not tackle it, the T-cells come into play and hunt out the virus to attack it.

"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". University of Oxford has been working on vaccines on MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) diseases, which are caused by coronaviruses.

That's good news, investigators said.

Siouxsie Wiles talked with Breakfast about the "promising" vaccine now being evaluated in the UK. The report in the British medical journal The Lancet suggested that so far the vaccine appeared safe and was able to conjure a promising immune response.

"There was a hope that if we had a vaccine quickly enough, we could put out the pandemic", Hill said, noting the continuing surge of infections globally.

The Oxford shot elicited neutralizing antibodies after a single dose, Hill said.

During the Phase I/II trial the vaccine has been evaluated in more than 1,000 healthy adult volunteers aged between 18 and 55 years in a randomised controlled trial. "An additional dose may be needed to induce a stronger immune response in the elderly population, but more research is being done to assess this".

"The question will be, I guess, if it is showing it's effective in the early stages, then whether there's sort of permission given to essentially stop the trial early and start using the vaccine properly", she said.

He added that the vaccine is undergoing further tests on more than 40,000 people in Britain, the U.S., South Africa and Brazil. "COVID-19 vaccine to overcome", study authors said.

If the vaccine, which was developed from a highly modified virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees, proved to be effective, it could be manufactured on large scale.

US drugmaker Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech also provided additional promising data, Ryan said.