The Associated PressJuly 31, 2020 11:05:09 AM IST
Imperial College London scientists say an early attempt to immunize hundreds of people with an experimental coronavirus vaccine after not finding a worrying safety issue in a small number of people vaccinated to date.
Dr. Robin Shattock, a college professor, said The Associated Press that he and his colleagues had just completed a very slow and tedious process of testing the vaccine at a low dose among the first participants and would now expand the study to around 300 people, including some over 75 years.
“It is well tolerated. There are no side effects, ”he said, adding that this was very early in the study. Shattock, who heads vaccine research at Imperial, hopes to have enough safety data to vaccinate several thousand people in October.
“We are looking very closely at the pandemic, the numbers where the trouble spots are, and we are speaking to people who have the opportunity to conduct such studies,” he said.
The Imperial vaccine uses synthetic strands of the genetic code that are based on the virus. After being injected into a muscle, the body’s cells are instructed to make copies of a spiky protein on the coronavirus. This, in turn, should trigger an immune response so that the body can fight off any future COVID-19 infection.
The world’s largest coronavirus vaccine study started in the United States earlier this week. The first of 30,000 volunteers planned was immunized with shots from the US National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc.
Several other vaccines made by China and the University of Oxford based on different vaccine technologies started smaller end-stage tests earlier this month in Brazil and other hard-hit countries.
The World Health Organization has stated that multiple vaccination approaches are required for COVID-19 and that the usual success rate for vaccine development is around 10%.
Shattock said that numerous coronavirus vaccines are currently in clinical trials and predicted that at least some of them would prove effective.
“We have 20 vaccines in clinical trials, so we can be pretty sure at least two of them will work,” he said. “It really depends on how strong the immune response has to be to provide protection.”
Shattock said he was optimistic that the imperial vaccine would work, but had to wait for the scientific data from the trial.
“I’ll just hold my breath and wait to see,” he said.
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