British pharma major AstraZeneca’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine has been found to be safe and has managed to produce a significant immune response in healthy volunteers in the initial stages of clinical trial, according to data released on Monday.
The experimental vaccine did not display any serious side effects and produced antibody and T-cell immune responses in the volunteers on whom it was tested, according to the results of the clinical trials published in The Lancet medical journal.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacting to the success of the clinical trial has said, “This is very positive news. A huge well done to our brilliant, scientists and researchers at the University of Oxford. There are no guarantees, we’re not there yet and further trials will be necessary – but this is an important step in the right direction.”
Scientists involved in the trials have said the vaccine caused minor side effects more frequently than a control group, but some of these effects could be reduced by taking common paracetamol, with no serious harmful effects from the vaccine.
Here’s all you need to know about Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate:
1. The vaccine has been called AZD1222 and was under development by pharma giant AstraZeneca in collaboration with scientists at Britain’s Oxford University.
2. The first human trial of the Covid-19 vaccine has indicated it is safe for use on healthy volunteers.
3. The new vaccine is a chimpanzee adenovirus viral vector (ChAdOx1) vaccine that expresses the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It uses a common cold virus (adenovirus) that infects chimpanzees, which has been weakened so that it can’t cause any infection in humans, and then has been genetically modified to code for the spike protein of the human SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to scientists working with the pharma major.
4. The human immune system has two ways of finding and attacking viral pathogens – antibody and T-cell responses. This experimental vaccine is intended to induce both, so it can attack the coronavirus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attack infected cells.
5. The widely-followed clinical trial is currently at an advanced stage, with ongoing trials in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa.
6. Oxford University has tied up with pharma major AstraZeneca and the British government to produce the vaccine on a mass scale if the final results turn out to be positive.
7. The Serum Institute of India is one of the global partners for the production of the Covid-19 vaccine on a large scale, once it gains regulatory approval.
8. A lot more research is needed before it can be confirmed that the experimental vaccine effectively protects against the Covid-19 infection and for how long that protection is likely to last in an infected patient.
.9. AstraZeneca’s is among the leading vaccine candidates against the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 6,00,000 lives worldwide.
10. Some of the other vaccines candidates being developed and in the forefront of the frantic search for an effective one are China’s Sinovac Biotech, another from state-owned Chinese firm Sinopharm, and one from the U.S. biotech firm Moderna.
11. The British pharma giant has signed agreements with governments around the world to supply the vaccine should it prove effective and gain regulatory approval. The company has said it will not seek to profit from the vaccine during the Covid-19 pandemic.
12. There is currently no working vaccine against Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and experts say one will be needed to control the pandemic that has infected millions of people around the world.