UK starts Covid-19 vaccine trials

UK starts Covid-19 vaccine trials

Around 1,100 volunteers are expected to take part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial that kicked off in the UK yesterday, but the organisers have warned a significant proportion of vaccines tested in clinical trials don't work.

University of Oxford researchers started screening healthy volunteers last month for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a weakened version of a common cold virus found in chimpanzees that has been genetically altered not to grow in humans.

A protein found on the surface of the Covid-19 virus, which plays an essential role in the infection pathway, has been added to the vaccine's construct.

"By vaccinating with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, we are hoping to make the body recognise and develop an immune response to the Spike protein that will help stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering human cells and therefore prevent infection," the researchers said.

"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."

Half of the volunteers will be given the potential vaccine, while the other control half will receive a widely available meningitis vaccine. Healthy participants aged 18-55 will be recruited across multiple study sites in Oxford, Southampton, London and Bristol

At the start of the trial the researchers will also recruit a separate small group of 10 volunteers who will receive two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 four weeks apart.

"Participants will be given an E-diary to record any symptoms experienced for 7 days after receiving the vaccine. They will also record if they feel unwell for the following three weeks," the researchers said.

"Following vaccination, participants will attend a series of follow-up visits. During these visits, the team will check participants' observations, take a blood sample and review the competed E-diary. These blood samples will be used to assess the immune response to the vaccine."

Related stories: CSIRO starts pre-clinical trials for potential Covid-19 vaccines

Johnson & Johnson sets ambitious Covid-19 vaccine target

Trials advancing for Covid-19 drug and vaccine research

Covid-19 vaccine trial kicks off in Seattle

Updated at 10:09am AEST on 24 April 2020.

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