Oxford researcher expects coronavirus vaccine results by Christmas

Henrietta Strickland
November 22, 2020

A week after one of its tests in Brazil was stopped amid a safety scare, Chinese biotech Sinovac has published data showing its experimental COVID-19 vaccine can quickly boost an immune response.

Dr Naor Bar-Zeev from Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the study, said the results must be interpreted with caution until phase three results are published.

According to the researchers, volunteers in the trial demonstrated similar immune responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-69, and 70 and over).

"The robust antibody and T-cell responses seen in older people in our study are encouraging", said co-author Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy, also from Oxford. The other group was given a placebo - a shot with an inactive substance. In the case of this potential vaccine, it would trick the body into making coronavirus spike proteins that will help it fight the virus. These so-called adenovirus vector vaccines are not known to cause any serious health concerns.

The move could deliver a limited amount of first shots of the vaccine as early as next month and eventually an end to the pandemic - but not after a long, hard winter.

As Axios reported, the next step for the vaccine candidate is to enter Phase III trials, in which the initial clinical group is expanded even further to a larger and more diverse group of participants.

The Oxford study was briefly suspended in September because of an unexplained illness in a volunteer.

About 42% of global participants and 30% of United States participants in the Phase 3 study have racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, the companies said in a news release, and 41% of global and 45% of U.S. participants are ages 56 to 85.

Moderna said Monday its vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing the disease, and Pfizer announced Wednesday that its efficacy rate is 95%.Pfizer is ready to seek authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the emergency use of its vaccine.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have arranged deals with the government so that the vaccines will be free to Americans and distributed according to plans worked out between the federal government and the states. Pfizer developed its vaccine with German partner BioNTech.

Because Moderna is also on the verge of submitting its vaccine for review, the outside panel could review the company's vaccine soon after Pfizer's.

Pollard said there was "no competition" with other vaccines. He said, "We will need all of them to protect people around the globe". Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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