DETROIT – Researchers have provided a promising update in the global effort to develop a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
Oxford researchers have published the early results of their phase one and two trials. They found all of the vaccine recipients responded as hoped.
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“We have found that in over 1,000 people, the safety profile looks rather good and reassuring, and importantly, we are seeing good immune responses in almost everybody,” said Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University.
The research was published in the British medical journal Lancet. It showed the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University caused a protective immune response in hundreds of people.
Researchers began testing 1,000 people in April. Half received the vaccine.
Scientists said people who received the vaccine produced a dual immune response in people from 18-55 years old. That means the vaccine triggers antibodies against the coronavirus and also produces all-important T-cells that continue to fight off the virus.
Larger trials on 10,000 people or more are still underway.
The trial tested two doses of the vaccines four weeks apart.
Oxford has partnered with Pharma giant AstraZeneca to produce the vaccine globally and the drugmaker has already committed to making 2 billion doses.
“What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system, in addition to neutralizing antibodies which other vaccines do,” Hill said. “We also see a very strong T-cell response.”
Hill said there’s increasing evidence that a T-cell response and antibodies are very important in controlling COVID-19.
“We see people who’ve recovered from a COVID-19 illness who have essentially no measurable antibodies, but do have T-cells,” Hill said. “So the guess there is that the T-cells have been important in helping them to clear their infection.”
Hill said even 2 billion doses might not be enough.
“That’s a huge achievement if we can do it,” Hill said. “No vaccine has ever produced half a billion doses in a year, so we definitely want other vaccines to work. We want them to share the activity, or the burden, if you like.
“I think the vaccine is the way out, and I think we’re going to need a lot of vaccine because there was a hope that if we had a vaccine quickly, we could put out the pandemic and it wouldn’t come back. I think it’s going to be very difficult to control this pandemic without a vaccine.”
Experts said more research is needed before the vaccine is confirmed to be effective.