First in line for Covid-19 vaccine trial
A microbiologist has become the first human to be injected for the human trial phase of a vaccine in the UK against the novel coronavirus being developed by a group of scientists at the University of Oxford. Elisa Granato is the first volunteer in an initial group of 800 to be part of the ground-breaking trial, which is hoped will be the answer for immunisation against the deadly virus and help with the easing of lockdown measures in place to curb its rapid transmission.
- Granato is joined by cancer researcher Edward O'Neill as the first two candidates – one of whom has been injected with the Covid-19 vaccine being trialled and the other a control vaccine which protects against meningitis.
- They will now be monitored for 48 hours to observe the impact of each. Scientists will then gradually start injecting further volunteers, healthy individuals aged between 18 and 55, in a similar half-and-half process – with none of the participants aware which vaccine they have been injected with.
- Personally I have a high degree of confidence in this vaccine, said Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute, who is leading the research.
- The researchers started screening healthy volunteers in March for the “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19” vaccine trial in the Thames Valley Region of England.
- ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is made from a virus (ChAdOx1), which is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees, that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans.
- The aim of the human trial is to assess whether healthy people can be protected from Covid-19 with this new vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.
- It will also provide valuable information on safety aspects of the vaccine and its ability to generate good immune responses against the deadly virus.
- By vaccinating with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the Oxford University team is hoping to make the body recognise and develop an immune response to the spike protein that will help stop the SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 virus from entering human cells and therefore prevent infection.
- Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 virus have been given to more than 320 people to date and have been shown to be safe and well tolerated, although they can cause temporary side effects, such as a temperature, headache or sore arm.
- There is a theoretical risk that the virus could induce a serious reaction to coronavirus, but the scientists say that their data suggests the risk of the vaccine producing an enhanced disease is minimal.
- The UK government has pumped in an extra 20 million pound into the University of Oxford trials and said that it is “throwing everything” at finding a vaccine against coronavirus, a crucial step to start lifting the strict social distancing lockdown measures in place to suppress the spread of the deadly virus.