A coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford appears safe and triggers an immune response.
Trials with 1,077 people showed that the injection led them to produce antibodies and T cells that can fight the coronavirus.
The findings are very promising, but it is still too early to know whether this is enough to offer protection and larger trials are underway. The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.
How does the vaccine work?
Called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the vaccine is being developed at an unprecedented rate.
It is made from a genetically modified virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees.
It has been greatly modified, first, so that it cannot cause infection in people and also to make it more “like” the coronavirus.
The scientists did this by transferring the genetic instructions for the coronavirus “spike protein,” the crucial tool it uses to invade our cells, to the vaccine they were developing.
This means that the vaccine resembles the coronavirus and the immune system can learn how to attack it.
What are the next steps in the test?
The results so far are promising, but its main objective is to ensure that the vaccine is safe enough to give to people.
The study cannot show whether the vaccine can prevent people from getting sick or even decrease their Covid-19 symptoms.
More than 10,000 people will participate in the next stage of trials in the UK.
However, the trial has also been expanded to other countries because coronavirus levels are low in the UK, making it difficult to know if the vaccine is effective.
There will be a great test involving 30,000 people in the US, 2,000 in South Africa and 5,000 in Brazil.
There are also calls for “challenge tests” in which vaccinated people are deliberately infected with coronavirus. However, there are ethical concerns due to lack of treatment.
Source: BBC with information of WHO