Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine is SAFE and can train immune system to fight disease, first human trial reveals

A CORONAVIRUS vaccine developed by Oxford University is safe and can trigger an immune reaction, findings of the first human trial show.

The jab could provide double protection after producing antibodies and white blood cells that can fight Covid-19, the researchers said.

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It comes after the Prime Minister admitted he is "not 100 per cent confident of a Covid vaccine by next year".

His comments followed a promising announcement after the UK secured 90 million doses of a potential vaccine to make sure Brits are first in line.

Scientists at Oxford first started testing their vaccine – called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 – in April in about 1,000 people.

It also induces strong immune responses in both parts of the immune system – provoking a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination, and an antibody response within 28 days.

Promising results

Compared with the control group of those given a meningitis vaccine, the Covid-19 vaccine caused minor side effects more frequently, according to the study.

But some of these could be reduced by taking paracetamol, the researchers said, adding that there were no serious adverse events from the vaccine.

Co-author Professor Sarah Gilbert, of the University of Oxford, said: "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."

Too early

An ideal vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 should be effective after one or two vaccinations and work in target populations including older adults and those with other health conditions, researchers say.

They add that it should confer protection for a minimum of six months, and reduce onward transmission of the virus to contacts.

However, the experts warn that the current trial is too preliminary to confirm whether the new vaccine meets these requirements.

Phase two – in the UK only – and phase three trials to confirm whether it effectively protects against the virus are taking place in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

The trial included 1,077 healthy adults aged 18-55 years with no history of Covid-19, and took place in five UK hospitals between April 23 and May 21.

A senior immunologist involved in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine at Oxford University has announced the latest results as "very encouraging".

Prof Andrew Pollard, of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the vaccine they were working on was "very well tolerated" by more than 1,000 volunteers involved in the trial.

"We are seeing good immune responses – exactly the sort of response we were hoping for – including neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses that seem to be those that are associated with protection," he said.

"This is an important milestone on the path and we are now moving rapidly forward to see if it actually protects the population by conducting large-scale trials and we have 10,000 people already vaccinated around the world."

Such early trials are usually designed only to evaluate safety, but in this case experts were also looking to see what kind of immune response was provoked.

The research was published today in the prestigious journal The Lancet.

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