China's COVID-19 vaccine trial shows promising results -- The Lancet

Henrietta Strickland
May 22, 2020

In recent studies, rhesus macaque monkeys were infected with the coronavirus and developed symptoms, but created protective antibodies and recovered after a few days thanks to a prototype vaccine.

The study, conducted in Wuhan, China, by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology tested different doses of the vaccine in 108 healthy adults who did not have the coronavirus. This type of vaccine is able to act as a natural infection and is especially good at teaching the immune system how to fight the virus.

Although these studies don't prove that humans and develop an immunity to the virus after recovering, it's definitely a step in the right direction.

The only thing better than one new study showing positive COVID-19 vaccine results in monkeys is two studies.

The vaccine candidate was well tolerated at all doses with no serious adverse events reported within 28 days of vaccination.

Because age has been identified as a risk factor for severe COVID-19, the authors said they included participants older than age 60 in a phase II trial now underway.

While any increase in neutralizing antibodies was a significant gain over the subjects' starting levels (zero), Dr Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, was unimpressed with the levels produced in the trial participants.

'The question is whether we're going to need that and whether these vaccines will be adequate to stimulate an immune response'.

While noting a higher reactogenicity profile in the higher dose, and potential viremia caused by Ad5 vector infection, the authors said they chose the low dose and middle dose to be further assessed in a phase II clinical trial.

But in the highest of the three doses used in this study, the number of side effects was high - 75% of the people in the highest dose arm reported at least one side effect.

The most common adverse reactions were mild pain at the injection site reported in over half (54pc, 58/108) of vaccine recipients, fever (46pc, 50/108), fatigue (44pc, 47/108), headache (39pc, 42/108), and muscle pain (17p, 18/108).

It is not known if the same result occurs in humans but the group says the findings have profound implications for vaccine development and treatment based on immunological responses.

The Beijing Institute of Biotechnology's vaccine is just one of dozens being studied around the world as public health authorities desperately search for a cure for the pandemic, which has already killed more than 94,000 people in the United States alone.

So far, the United States government is supporting the development of 14 candidate vaccinations through its Operation Speed initiative.

It's unclear if the United States is coordinating with the Chinese vaccine developers.

In the USA and United Kingdom, vaccines from Moderna and Oxford University (collaborating with AstaZeneca) are in human trials, and have shown promising early results.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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