Covid-19 vaccine: Oxford University to start human trials
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The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford will be tested on hundreds of humans in Britain from Thursday, UK health secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday.

• A total of 510 healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 55, will take part in the trial. While some participants will receive the vaccine – called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 - others will take a control injection for comparison. The trial will continue over a couple of weeks.

• How vaccine will work? - Coronaviruses have club-shaped spikes on their outer coats. Immune responses from other coronavirus studies suggest that these are a good target for a vaccine. The Oxford vaccine contains the genetic sequence of this surface spike protein inside the adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1) construct. After vaccination, the surface spike protein of the coronavirus is produced, which primes the immune system to attack the coronavirus if it later infects the body.

• A chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1) was chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for a Covid-19 vaccine as it can generate a strong immune response from one dose and it is not a replicating virus, so it cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual.

• Second phase of a clinical trial - involves increasing the maximum age of those who receive the vaccine to above 70.

• Third phase of a clinical trial - vaccinate 5000 volunteers aged over 18 years, giving half of them the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The best-case scenario is that by the autumn of 2020, we could have an efficacy result from the phase 3 trial to show that the vaccine protects against the virus, alongside the ability to manufacture large amounts of the vaccine, but these best-case timeframes are highly ambitious and subject to change,” a spokesperson for the Oxford vaccine trial said.

Early findings have shown that animals given the vaccine are able to produce neutralizing antibodies against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The next stage is to test whether it can produce the same response in humans.

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