The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by scientists at the University of Oxford has been found to induce ‘a strong immune response’ with ‘no early safety concerns’.
The results from human trials into the vaccine, published today in the Lancet, showed that it provoked a T-cell response within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days.
The Oxford team started work on developing a vaccine in January this year, entering a global licensing deal with Astra Zeneca and backed by a UK Government investment worth £65.5m.
The randomised controlled Phase I/II trial launched in April, including 1,077 healthy adult volunteers aged between 18 and 55 years. These were injected with the vaccine or a placebo MenACWY vaccine between April and May, with ‘no serious advert health events’ observed related to the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine.
The researchers said the strongest immune response was seen in volunteers who received two doses – a subset of 10 of the participants.
The researchers added that they will need to undertake a larger study to determine whether the vaccine will protect patients against infection with Covid-19.
Study co-author Professor Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford Jenner Institute, said: ‘These encouraging results support further evaluation of this candidate vaccine in our ongoing large scale Phase III programme, that is still needed to assess the ability of the vaccine to protect people from Covid-19.’
The UK Government agreed a deal in May with AstraZeneca to make up to 30m doses of the Oxford vaccine available by September for the UK, as part of an agreement to deliver 100m doses in total, should it prove safe and effective.
The news comes as Pulse reported last week that the Government has ordered 65m syringes from one manufacturer as part of preparations for a potential Covid-19 vaccine, due for delivery by mid-September.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has said he hopes to combine a Covid-19 vaccination programme with this year’s ‘historic’ flu vaccination campaign.
And GPs look set to be among those prioritised in a Covid-19 vaccination campaign, after interim advice developed on behalf of the Government by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said frontline health and care staff should be prioritised due to their increased risk of being exposed to coronavirus and transmitting it to patients.