Oxford University scientists announced Monday that their experimental coronavirus vaccine prompted protective immune responses in hundreds of patients tested in an early trial.
In the test of the vaccine, given to 500 people starting in April, scientists said the shots produced “a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunized,” The Associated Press reported.
“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said. The research was published Monday in the journal Lancet.
“Hill said that neutralizing antibodies are produced — molecules which are key to blocking infection. In addition, the vaccine also causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells, which help by destroying cells that have been taken over by the virus,” the AP reported. “The experimental COVID-19 vaccine caused minor side effects like fever, chills and muscle pain more often than in those who got a control meningitis vaccine.”
“There’s increasing evidence that having a T-cell response as well as antibodies could be very important in controlling COVID-19,” Hill said. He suggested the immune response might be boosted after a second dose; in a small number of people, their trial tested two doses administered about four weeks apart.
Larger trials are planned, one involving about 10,000 people in the United Kingdom and another in the U.S., which would enroll about 30,000 people. Hill said Oxford is joining with drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce the vaccine worldwide, and that the company has committed to making 2 billion doses.
Last week, stocks soared following news that another new COVID-19 vaccine showed that it produced antibodies in all patients during a trial.
The surge followed news from Moderna, a pharmaceutical company that announced its coronavirus vaccine produced a “robust” immune response — meaning antibodies — in all 45 patients in its early stage human trial, according to data published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.
“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Associated Press.
“The hallmark of a vaccine is one that can actually mimic natural infection and induce the kind of response that you would get with natural infection. And it looks like, at least in this limited, small number of individuals, that is exactly what’s happening,” Fauci said. “The data really look quite good. There were no serious adverse events.”
The Moderna vaccine test began back in March, with 45 volunteers being injected twice, a month apart. Every one of the test subjects developed “neutralizing” antibodies in their bloodstream at levels about the same as people who had contracted COVID-19 and recovered, the Journal reported.
“This is an essential building block that is needed to move forward with the trials that could actually determine whether the vaccine does protect against infection,” said Dr. Lisa Jackson of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, who led the study.
There were no serious side effects, the researchers said, but about half of the volunteers did report flu-like reactions, including headache, fatigue, chills, fever, and pain at the injection site. For those who suffered fever, it lasted just a day.
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