Oxford's extremely promising breakthrough on coronavirus vaccineResearchers at the University of Oxford believe they may have a breakthrough in their search for a COVID-19 vaccine after the team discovered that the jab could provide "double protection" against the deadly coronavirus following early-stage human trials, according to media reports in the UK.
Blood samples taken from a group of UK volunteers given a dose of the vaccine showed that it stimulated the body to produce both antibodies and “killer T-cells”, a senior source from the trial was quoted by ‘The Daily Telegraph’ as saying.
The discovery is promising because separate studies have suggested that antibodies may fade away within months while T-cells can stay in circulation for years.
However, the source cautioned that the results, while "extremely promising", did not yet prove that the Oxford vaccine provides long-lasting immunity against the deadly virus.
"I can tell you that we now know the Oxford vaccine covers both bases – it produces both a T cell and an antibody response. It’s the combination of these two that will hopefully keep people safe. So far, so good. It’s an important moment. But we still have a long way to go," the source said.
Another source close to the team described the presence of both antibodies and T-cells as a "double defence" against COVID-19.
Phase 3 trial of vaccine begins
The pharmaceutical company said last month that phase one trials were due to finish and a phase three trial had begun which will see the vaccine given to thousands of people so it can be tested for efficacy and safety.
"The COVID-19 vaccine trial team have been working hard on assessing the safety and immunogenicity of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and preparing to assess vaccine efficacy," Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the university’s Jenner Institute who is leading the research, had said back in May.
What Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine is based on
The vaccine, named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is based on a weakened version of the common cold that causes infections in chimpanzees. It also contains the genetic material of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 – the strain of coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness.
The Oxford University vaccine is one of more than 100 in development as the novel coronavirus continues to spread – infecting more than 13 million people and killing at least 582,000 worldwide.
(With inputs from PTI)