Human trials of Oxford covid-19 vaccine show 'promising results'

15 July 2020, 22:52

The Oxford bid to find a vaccine has shown promising results
The Oxford bid to find a vaccine has shown promising results. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine being developed by scientists in Oxford are reported to have shown promising results.

Researchers believe they have made a breakthrough after discovering the jab could provide "double protection" against the virus, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Further data from the Oxford University trial is set to be published on Monday.

The message about the initial trials of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine - backed by AstraZeneca and supported by millions of pounds of Government money - comes following the news of another breakthrough in vaccine-testing in the US.

There may be positive news about the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days
There may be positive news about the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days. Picture: PA

On Tuesday, it was announced that an experimental US vaccine will enter key final testing around 27 July after showing promising results, such as boosting the immune systems of the participants.

The trial of the drug - developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc in the US and based on findings from 45 volunteers - will track roughly 30,000 people to prove if it can be effective in preventing infection.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US Government's top infectious disease expert, said: "No matter how you slice this, this is good news."

Read more: Coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out in 'first half of next year', says UK professor

Read more: Duke of Cambridge praises Oxford team for 'incredibly exciting' work on Covid-19 vaccine

Prince William talks to a participant in the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine trial
Prince William talks to a participant in the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine trial. Picture: PA

Meanwhile in the UK, "positive news" about vaccine-testing is expected in the coming days, possibly as soon as tomorrow, according to a source reported by ITV's political editor Robert Peston.

He said the vaccine "is generating the kind of antibody and T-cell (killer cell) response that the researchers would hope to see."

However, his source added that the drug's efficacy will become clearer in the large-scale Phase Three trials that are currently ongoing in Brazil.

It is also still too early to tell whether it will be successful and there could still be shortcomings in developing the vaccine, the source warned.

Read more: White House infectious disease expert 'confident' Covid-19 vaccine will be found

Read more: Imperial College to start human trials of coronavirus vaccine

William congratulates Oxford vaccine trial team

Elsewhere, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Stephen Evans responded to the potential "positive news" with caution.

“I definitely do not want to respond on speculation," Prof Evans said.

"Even the positive news will have a limited impact at this stage. Rushing into comment does not serve scientific, patient or the public’s interest.

"As scientists, we rely on data and while we could repeat what we know from previous data it is not helpful, especially in the context of rumour about new data, to speculate."

On Monday, the Lancet Medical Journal is set to publish Phase One of its clinical trial data about the potential Oxford vaccine.

"We expect this paper, which is undergoing final editing and preparation, to be published on Monday 20 July for immediate release," a spokeswoman for the journal said.

Vaccine is not inevitable and the UK may need to find other methods

Developers of the vaccine, known as AZD1222, said earlier this month they were encouraged by the immune response they had seen in trials so far and they were expecting to publish Phase One data by the end of July.

In response to the news about the two prospective vaccines, the London markets surged as traders' hopes were boosted by the prospect.

The FTSE 100 closed 112.9 points higher at 6,292.65p at the end of trading on Wednesday.

David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: "Stocks are driving higher on the back of optimism in relation to the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed.

"The bullish sentiment has rippled out across Europe, as the FTSE 100 briefly traded above 6,300, the CAC 40 hit its highest level since late March and the DAX 30 reached a mark last seen in late February.

"It is early days yet in regards to the development of a potential vaccine, but many traders are keen to buy into the market."

Meanwhile, shares of Moderna jumped in after-hours trading following the announcement its trial vaccine had boosted people's immune systems just the way scientists had hoped.

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