In Oxford, the first clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine in Europe has begun. Two volunteers have been implanted, the first of over 800 recruited for the research. Half receives the vaccine Covid-19 and half a control vaccine that protects against meningitis but not coronavirus. Trial design means patients won’t know what vaccine they’re having, while doctors do.
A team at Oxford University developed the vaccine in under three months. The pre-clinical work was led by Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Jenner Institute.
The vaccine is created from a weakened strain of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from modified chimpanzees so that it can not spread in humans. The Oxford team has also established a Mers vaccine, another form of coronavirus, using the same method – and that had positive clinical trial results. The only way the team can learn if the Covid-19 vaccine succeeds is by measuring the number of people from either the two arms of the trial that are infected with coronavirus in the months ahead. This may be a concern if cases fell quickly in the UK, as data might not be adequate.
Older People Continue to Response to Vaccines
Vaccine experts emphasize the induction into the study of local health care staff since they are more likely to expose to the virus than others. A larger study, with approximately 5,000 participants, will begin in the months ahead and will have no age limit. Older people continue to have poorer immune responses to vaccines. Researchers are determining if two doses of the jab may be required.
The Oxford team is also working on a potential vaccine trial there with researchers in Kenya, where the transmission rates are rising from a low base. If the numbers may be a problem, why not infect volunteers with coronavirus on purpose? It would be a fast and reliable way of finding out whether the vaccine was successful, but that would be ethically dubious because there are no confirmed Covid-19 treatments.
Volunteers from the trial will be closely supervising in the months to come. They advise that in the first few days after vaccination some get a sore neck, headaches, or fevers. Researchers are also advised that there is a theoretical risk. Also, the virus may cause a severe reaction to coronavirus. It has occurred in some early studies of Sars animal vaccine. But the Oxford team says its research shows that the possibility of an improved disease. It causes vaccine is small, and the results from animal tests have been encouraging.
There, scientists hope to get one million doses available by September. Also, then significantly increase production if the vaccine appears to be successful.
Another Imperial College London team is planning to launch clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccination in June. The Oxford and Imperial teams have earned government support worth more than £40 m. Secretary of Health Matt Hancock has lauded both teams. It said the UK should “give everything we can” to create a vaccine. UK Chief Medical Advisor Professor Chris Whitty states that neither a vaccine nor a COVID-19 therapy drug expects. It is to be available in the coming year.