Oxford university starts enrolling 500 volunteers for virus vaccine trial

Scientists at the University of Oxford have opened their Covid-19 vaccines for the recruitment of clinical trials as part of a rapid vaccine response to the coronavirus pandemic. The trial, a collaboration between the university’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group clinical teams, will recruit up to 510 volunteers, who will receive the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or a control injection for comparison.

The researchers, working in an unprecedented vaccine development effort to prevent Covid-19, said they had started testing for healthy volunteers (ages 18 to 55) starting Friday for their next trial in the region from Thames Valley in England.

The Oxford team had an exceptional experience of a rapid vaccine response, as during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. This is an even greater challenge, said Professor Adrian Hill , director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.

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Vaccines are designed from scratch and have progressed at an unprecedented rate. The next trial will be critical to assess the feasibility of vaccination against Covid-19 and could lead to early deployment, he said.

The vector-based vaccine against adenovirus and advanced protein SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 is already in production but will not be ready for a few weeks.

The team, meanwhile, will recruit healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 who, if screened successfully, will be the first humans to test the new vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The trial will provide valuable information on the safety aspects of the vaccine, as well as on its ability to generate an immune response against the virus.

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Interested parties can volunteer to participate on the Covid-19 vaccine website.

While the team will start screening people now to see if they are eligible to participate in the study, participants will not receive the vaccine for a few weeks.

Detailed preclinical work is underway and the vaccine is manufactured to clinical quality standards at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility at the University of Oxford.

The essay has been approved by UK regulators and ethical reviewers. Researchers are working as quickly as possible to prepare the vaccine for use in the trial, which includes further preclinical investigations and the production of more doses of the vaccine.

Professor Andrew Pollard, lead researcher for the study, said: The start of clinical trials is the first step in efforts to determine if the new vaccine developed at the University of Oxford works and could safely play a central role in the fight against the pandemic coronavirus which is sweeping the globe.

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Scientists around the world are working hard to develop a vaccine to prevent Covid-19, but much remains to be done.

The Oxford team led by Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor Andrew Pollard, Professor Teresa Lambe, Dr Sandy Douglas and Professor Adrian Hill started designing a vaccine on January 10.

Professor Gilbert and his team have already developed a vaccine against another human coronavirus disease, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and this has shown promise in the first clinical trials.

The new vaccine is an adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1) and was developed at the Jenner Institute in Oxford. It has been chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for a SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) vaccine because it can generate a strong immune response from a dose and is not a replicating virus , therefore, it cannot cause continuous infection in the vaccinated individual.

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It also makes it safer to give to children, the elderly and anyone with a preexisting condition like diabetes. Adenoviral vectors are a well-researched type of vaccine that has been used safely in thousands of people, from one week to 90 years of age, in vaccines targeting more than 10 different diseases.

Professor Gilbert, lead researcher in the vaccine development program, said: Since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, my research team has been working on new approaches to vaccine development to protect the world’s population against an epidemic of infectious disease or a pandemic. We are now working with a much larger team to make these plans a reality.

In addition to the first clinical trial, vaccine production is scaled up, ready for larger trials and, potentially, for future deployment.

By immediately starting to scale up vaccine manufacturing, the team can ensure that enough vaccine doses are available as soon as possible, especially for National Health Service (NHS) workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions if the trials prove that the vaccine is safe and effective.


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