The University of Oxford has created a safe coronavirus vaccine that triggers the creation of antibodies and T-cells that can fight the virus.
Oxford trials involved 1,077 people who showed an immune response after being injected with the vaccine.
Researchers said the results are promising, but was quick to say that larger trials are underway. The vaccine needs to be tested to see if it can protect people from being infected with the coronavirus.
Prof Andrew Pollard of the Oxford research group said, “We’re really pleased with the results published today as we’re seeing both neutralising antibodies and T-cells. They’re extremely promising and we believe the type of response that may be associated with protection.”
“But the key question everyone wants to know is, ‘does the vaccine work’, ‘does it offer protection’… and we’re in a waiting game,” Pollard said.
The U.K. government has ordered 100 million doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which is being developed at unprecedented speed.
The vaccine is made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. The strain has been modified heavily so it cannot cause infection in people and so it would look more like the coronavirus.
Scientists transferred the genetic instructions for the coronavirus’s “spike protein”, which the virus uses to invade human cells, to the vaccine they were developing.
Once the vaccine resembled the coronavirus, the human immune system can learn to attack it.
According to Pollard, the study showed 90% of people in the trials “developed neutralizing antibodies” after one dose. Only ten people were given two doses and all of them produced neutralizing antibodies.
“We don’t know the level needed for protection, but we can maximise responses with a second dose,” Prof Pollard told the BBC.
Researchers also assured that the vaccine is safe but there are mild side effects. About 70% of people on the trial developed either fever or headache which was easily managed with paracetamol.
Prof Sarah Gilbert, from the University of Oxford, UK, says: “There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the Covid-19 pandemic, but these early results hold promise.”