Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine goes into human trials this week
In a major development, researchers at the Oxford University claimed to have developed a vaccine for COVID-19, aka the novel coronavirus disease. The vaccine candidate, dubbed ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is set to go into human trials starting Thursday, and is likely to be delivered by September-October to fight the ongoing global pandemic. Here's all about the vaccine and its trial.
Vaccine from weakened common cold virus
ChAdOx1, as Oxford researchers explained, has been developed from a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been genetically changed to make it impossible to grow in humans, and combined with a gene that makes spike glycoprotein, a SARS-CoV-2 protein that plays an essential role in the infection pathway of the coronavirus.
This primes immune system to fight COVID-19 infection
Once this vaccine is given, the genetic sequence of the spike protein inside the ChAdOx1 construct primes the immune system to attack the coronavirus. "This vaccine aims to turn the virus' most potent weapon, its spikes, against it - raising antibodies that stick to them, allowing the immune system to destroy the virus," said Rajeka Lazarus, principal investigator for the vaccine trial in Bristol.
"Strong immune response from one dose"
The researchers behind the vaccine asserted that a single dose of it can generate a strong immune response in a patient's body. In addition to this, they also said that their candidate is safe to be given to people of all ages, starting from young children to the elderly and anyone with a pre-existing condition such as diabetes.
Now, goal is to determine vaccine's efficacy and safety
The researchers are now working to begin the human trials of the vaccine to check how effectively it works. Adam Finn from Bristol Vaccine Center, one of the trial sites, says, "This study will help us to assess whether healthy people can be protected from COVID-19 with this new vaccine and it will also give us valuable information on its safety."
Production capabilities also being scaled up
Along with the trial on 500 odd participants, researchers are also racing to scale up the production of the solution for larger tests and presumably mass-deployment in the future. "By starting vaccine manufacturing scale-up immediately, the team can ensure that enough vaccine doses are available as soon as possible for the next trials which will include older people and children," Lazarus emphasized.
Other vaccine trials are also underway
In all, 70 COVID-19 vaccines are in development around the world but only four have moved into the human trial phase - two from the US, one from China, and the fourth being this one, from the UK.