- The AstraZeneca Oxford COVID-19 vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19), which is among the leading candidates currently in development, is officially in the third phase of clinical trials.
- A team at Bristol University made an independent analysis on the said vaccine and has confirmed that it is following the genetic instructions programmed into it.
- The Oxford vaccine could be made available for medics and high-risk patients by the end of the year, but only for emergency use.
In January 2020, the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group started developing a vaccine against coronavirus. The AstraZeneca Oxford Covid-19 vaccine, also technically known as AZD1222, has shown very promising results, and is currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials.
The Oxford vaccine was derived from Adenovirus, a common cold virus, which they took from chimpanzees.
They then altered and added it with instructions for the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2.
According to the article published by the University of Oxford, Adenovirus have been used for several years to develop vaccines. These are always tested to ensure that every batch of vaccine has ‘the correct copy of genetic instructions’ embedded in it.
And through very recent advances in genetic sequencing and protein analysis technology, researchers from Bristol analyzed and validated that the instructions were ‘copied correctly and accurately.’ This means the vaccine is working as they hoped it would.
Dr David Matthews, Reader in Virology from Bristol’s School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM) said:
‘This is an important study as we are able to confirm that the genetic instructions underpinning this vaccine, which is being developed as fast as safely possible, are correctly followed when they get into a human cell.”
“Until now, the technology hasn’t been able to provide answers with such clarity, but we now know the vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness,” added Dr. Matthews, who also led the research.
According to the latest update on its clinical trials, AstraZeneca recently stated that the Oxford vaccine prompted the same immune response in both older and younger adults.
A group of elderly participants somehow developed protective antibodies and T-cells, based on immunogenicity blood tests.
However, positive immunogenicity tests do not guarantee that the vaccine will ultimately be safe and effective; thus, it should be further analyzed, The Independent wrote.
The vaccine could be made available by the end of the year, but only for emergency use and for a specific population only.
Professor Adrian Hill, who is leading the Oxford vaccine program said the researchers are planning to seek emergency approval for vulnerable patients. Medics and high-risk patients could receive doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020.
“The initial licence would be for emergency use and not full approval,” Dr. Hill said, emphasizing that regulators will require more data before they give license to vaccinate everybody. “So what we’re looking for this year is an ’emergency use’ authorization that will allow us to go and vaccinate those most at risk as a priority, then early next year everybody else.”
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