Hopes for a successful coronavirus vaccine have been raised after University of Oxford researches signalled a potential breakthrough while testing their prototype. The news comes on the heels of similarly strong results from a study in the United States.
Human trials carried out by Oxford researchers reportedly showed their vaccine prototype had successfully generated an immune response against the virus.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper said blood samples taken from some 1,000 volunteers in phase 1 trials showed the vaccine had stimulated encouraging levels of antibodies and T-cells. No serious side effects were reported.
“We now know the Oxford vaccine covers both bases – it produces both a T-cell and an antibody response,” an unnamed source told the Telegraph. A separate source said this meant the vaccine could offer “double protection” against the virus.
While the researchers have yet to prove the immune response is enough to offer long-lasting protection against infection, the results are much more encouraging than dozens of similar Covid-19 trials.
In a public statement, the Oxford team said the results of the trial were expected to be published next week in The Lancet medical journal.
A leader contender among almost 100 prototypes currently in development, the vaccine is being supported by the British government and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
A phase 3 trial, which will see the vaccine given to thousands of people, has already begun.
David Carpenter, who heads the Berkshire Research Ethics Committee that approved the Oxford trial, said a vaccine may be widely available as soon as September.
US trial enters 'final stages'
News of the Oxford trial results come after US biotech company Moderna said its Covid-19 vaccine was ready to enter the final stage of human trials.
Strong early results published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the vaccine induced an immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it in a phase 1 study.
The company said it would enter final human trials on 27 July, to test how well the vaccine protects people in the real world.
Some 30,000 participants are to be recruited in the US, half of whom will receive a placebo, and the other half of whom will receive a 100 microgram dose of the vaccine.
So far, the coronavirus has infected more than 13.5 million people and killed 580,000 people worldwide.