A coronavirus vaccine being produced by scientists at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom has been found to be safe, and produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials in healthy volunteers, Reuters reported on Monday. The vaccine, called AZD1222, did not cause any serious side effects and elicited antibody and T-cell immune responses, medical journal The Lancet said.
British researchers first tested the vaccine on about 1,000 people in April, half of whom were given the dose and the other half a placebo, AP reported. On Monday, scientists said they found that the experimental vaccine produces a dual immune response in persons aged 18 to 55.
“We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period,” study lead author at Oxford University, Andrew Pollard, said. “However, we need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against SARS-CoV-2 [Covid-19] infection, and for how long any protection lasts.”
The vaccine has been produced by British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The company has signed agreements with many governments to supply the vaccine, should it be found to be effective and gain regulatory approval. AstraZeneca claims that it will not seek to profit from the vaccine, and is already committed to making 200 crore doses.
“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” Dr Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University said. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system.” While the antibodies produced by the vaccine block the Covid-19 infection, the vaccine also activates the body’s T-cells, which help to fight off the coronavirus, Hill said.
The researcher added that larger human trials evaluating the vaccine’s effectiveness, involving people from Britain, South Africa and Brazil, are still under way. Another major trial of AZD1222, comprising about 30,000 individuals, will soon begin in the United States, he said.
“There might be a million [10 lakh] doses manufactured by September: that now seems like a remarkable underestimate, given the scale of what’s going on,” Hill said.
In India, human trials of Covaxin, the first indigenous vaccine against the coronavirus, began on Monday, according to the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, Randeep Guleria. Researchers would need at least three months to get the first set of data, he added.
The trials began on a day when India reported its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus infections and deaths. With 40,425 new cases, India’s total count went up to 11,18,043. The toll rose by 681 to 27,497. However, as many as 7,00,086 people have recovered.
On the other hand, globally, 1,45,38,115 people have so far been infected, and 6,06,922 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. As many as 81,88,292 people have recovered.