THE coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca “works perfectly” and builds strong immunity, a study has said.
The team at the prestigious university are thought to be the frontrunners in the race to produce a safe vaccine.
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Oxford University is developing the vaccine with AstraZeneca[/caption]
In early trials it has been shown to safely trigger an immune response in volunteers, according to the study.
Usually, vaccines use a weakened virus, or small amounts of it, but the innovative Oxford jab causes the body to make part of the virus itself.
Researchers led by the University of Bristol have now found this new technique works for the coronavirus.
The study used cells in the lab and found the vaccine delivers instructions for the Covid protein, which cells then copy thousands of times to produce it in large amounts.
Due to that a person’s immune system is then set up to recognise the disease and fight it off without the person falling ill.
‘STRONG IMMUNE RESPONSE’
Dr David Matthews, from Bristol’s School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM), who led the research, said: “Until now, the technology hasn’t been able to provide answers with such clarity, but we now know the vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness.”
Sarah Gilbert, who leads the Oxford University vaccine trial, said: “The study confirms that large amounts of the coronavirus spike protein are produced with great accuracy, and this goes a long way to explaining the success of the vaccine in inducing a strong immune response.”
While the results are encouraging the vaccine is still undergoing phase three trials and needs to be to be fully tested and approved by health watchdogs before it can be rolled out to the general public.
Last week, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said the NHS was preparing to launch the AstraZeneca vaccine shortly after Christmas.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said the vaccine could be rolled out as early as December[/caption]
Researchers work at the IRBM laboratories in Italy, who have teamed up with Oxford University (archive photo)[/caption]
Prof Van-Tam told MPs last week that stage three trials of the vaccine mean a mass rollout could come as early as December.
Another drug giant – Pfizer – is also creating Covid vaccines that could be available by the New Year.
A video of tiny vials of the medicine rolling off the production line has been shared.
And last weekend, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) predicted a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready in the spring.
Professor Jeremy Farrar said the UK was in for a “tough” Christmas this year but that a vaccine would be a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.
“I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.
“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.
“It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
However, there have been some issues with the Oxford trials.
DEATH OF VOLUNTEER
A volunteer in the trials Dr João Pedro Feitosa died from complications from the coronavirus while taking part in the testing of the jab.
It is believed the doctor had not been given the vaccine, but was one of the guinea pigs given a benign placebo.
Last month, an Oxford vaccine volunteer told how he suffered fever and chills 14 hours after having the Covid remedy.
The unnamed volunteer said he woke up in the early hours freezing but with a temperature above 39C after having the jab.
“I felt incredibly weak and couldn’t really get up and move so my partner had to get me a paracetamol,” he said.
“The temperature continued for about a day, and I just felt really weak and lethargic and couldn’t really do anything.”
The volunteer’s revelation came days after AstraZeneca paused trials studies of the vaccine after a UK participant was admitted to hospital with a suspected neurological disorder.
Researchers paused the crucial research to allow them to investigate exactly what happened to the trial participant.
However, the trial in the UK was resumed two days later.
So far, 18,000 people have received the AZD1222 vaccine as part of the trial, which is taking place in the US, South Africa, Brazil and the UK.
50,000 participants are expected to take part worldwide in phase three trials – usually the final stage before it can be approved for widespread rollout.
The vaccine is thought to be the world’s best hope for stopping the respiratory disease which has killed more than one million people worldwide.
In the UK, the government this month changed the law to expand the number of health professionals able to administer the jab.
New regulations will enable pharmacists, dentists, midwives and paramedics to inoculate the public.
The first vaccines would be given to the elderly and vulnerable and to vaccinate those most at risk will take several months.
Prof Van-Tam said: “Vaccines are being developed at a speed that, if successful, will save lives.”