A vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the U.K.’s Oxford University appears to be safe, early-stage clinical trials have shown, marking a promising breakthrough in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, although it is yet to be seen whether it protects people against the virus.
Trials of the vaccine, involving some 1,077 healthy adult volunteers between April and May, showed the injection triggered the creation of antibodies and white blood cells to fight coronavirus.
The study, published in medical journal The Lancet, shows the vaccine also didn’t have any serious or dangerous side effects, although headaches and fever experienced by participants were treated with paracetamol.
However, the vaccine, called AZD1222, requires larger trials to test whether it can offer protection against coronavirus.
Britain has already secured a supply of 100 million doses of the vaccine, which is being developed at an unprecedented speed.
Phase 2 and 3 trials for the Oxford project kicked off in May.
The vaccine is made from a genetically engineered virus and has been modified, meaning it looks like coronavirus, but cannot trigger the infection in people. Instead, it trains the immune system to attack the virus.
Oxford’s Andrew Pollard, who is lead author on the study, said: “We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period.”
He added: “However, we need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against SARS-CoV-2 (https://bt-hypnotise.com/) infection, and for how long any protection lasts.”
Researchers working on the vaccine say they expect to begin rolling out the vaccine from October this year, months ahead of experts’ estimates that it would take until at least 2021 to find an effective injection. More than 20 vaccines are in human trials, and, if proven effective protection against the virus, are expected to play a key role in helping life to get back to normal, protect frontline workers and save lives.