A potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has produced a promising immune response in a large, early-stage human trial, according to newly released data published Monday in the medical journal The Lancet.
The researchers are calling their experimental vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222). It combines genetic material from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause common cold in chimpanzees. The phase one trial had more than 1,000 participants in people ages 18 to 55.
AstraZeneca’s shares were down 2.5% in midday trading.
The researchers said the vaccine produced antibodies and killer T-cells to combat the infection that lasted at least two months. Neutralizing antibodies, which scientists believe is important to gain protection against the virus, were detected in participants. The T-cell response did not increase with a second dose of the vaccine, they said, which is consistent with other vaccines of this kind.
“The immune system has two ways of finding and attacking pathogens — antibody and T cell responses,” Oxford professor Andrew Pollard said in a release. “This vaccine is intended to induce both, so it can attack the virus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attacking infected cells. We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period.”
The potential vaccine 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. At least 23 of the vaccine candidates are already in human trials, according to the World Health Organization.
There were no dangerous side-effects from taking the vaccine, however, 70% of people on the trial developed either fever or headache.
The researchers say this could be managed with paracetamol.
Health and care workers will be prioritized as will people who are deemed at high risk from Covid-19 due to their age or medical conditions
The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.
Companies BioNtech and Pfizer have also had positive results using their RNA vaccine.