Oxford University’s experimental coronavirus vaccine triggers a “strong immune response” and appears to be safe, preliminary results from a recent trial suggest.
In an encouraging report published Monday in the medical journal The Lancet, Oxford scientists said their vaccine provoked a T-cell response within 14 days and an antibody response within 28 days. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that can identify and attack cells infected with coronavirus while antibodies are able to neutralize the virus and stop it from spreading within the body.
Thetrial was conducted from late April to late May with more than 1,000 healthy adults, all of whom presented positive results and no serious side effects. The most common symptoms were pain at the injection site as well as headache, fever and muscle aches within the first day following vaccination, according to the article.
Oxford’s researchers said the next step is to determine whether their vaccine, which is one of many being tested around the world, can “effectively protect” against SARS-CoV-2 — the virus’s official name.
“The immune responses that were made following vaccination are exactly the kind of responses that we think might be associated with protection, though we must continue with our rigorous clinical trial program to confirm whether the responses we have seen are sufficient,” the university said in a news release.
The next trial will likely last several months and will include about 30,000 patients in the U.S. as well as volunteers in Brazil, South Africa and other developing countries.
Oxford is working with the U.K.-based biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which has committed to supplying more than 2 billion doses of the vaccine when — and if — it’s approved for large-scale use.
That number may seem high, but the world would likely need an even larger supply to effectively control the still-growing pandemic.
Prof. Andrew Pollard, one of the study’s co-authors, said there was an even greater immune response among 10 participants who got two doses of the vaccine, “indicating that this might be a good strategy for vaccination.”
Britain’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma called the study’s unprecedented speed “outstanding.”
“Today’s results are extremely encouraging, taking us one step closer to finding a successful vaccine to protect millions in the UK and across the world,” he said in a statement.