(Image source from: nypost.com)
With the entire world in the grasp of the novel coronavirus, the scientists and researchers have been working day in and day out to develop a viable vaccine. According to reports the first patients have been administered with the Covid-19 vaccine in UK.
The first human trial of the coronavirus vaccine in the Europe has started in Oxford. Over 800 people have been recruited for the process of vaccine testing and the first two people were injected.
For the randomised control study, half of the subjects will be injected with the coronavirus vaccine while the remaining half is going to be administered with a vaccine meant for meningitis. The design of the trial has been made in a way to ensure that the subjects won’t know which vaccine they have been administered with.
Of the two subjects who were injected, one is Elisa Granato, who herself is a scientist and wanted to contribute her part in the development of the vaccine. The vaccine that has been administered on these two subjects has been developed in a record time of three months at the Oxford University.
The pre-clinical research has been led by Sarah Gilbert who is the professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute.
Gilbert stated saying that she has faith in the vaccine that they have developed.
"Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to demonstrate it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wider population,” Gilbert said.
Prof. Gilbert also highlighted saying that she is 80% sure that the vaccine would work but doesn’t want to put any kind of actual figure to it but she said that she is highly optimistic about the results.
The vaccine has been developed from a weakened version of the common cold virus, adenovirus, that has been traced from chimpanzees and modified for it to grow in the human body.
This is not the first time that Oxford University has been in the field of vaccine development. They have done this before when the Mers outbreak happened and the same was done using a similar approach and the results during the clinical trials were extremely positive.
The only way that the researchers would be able to know whether or not the vaccine was effective or not is by comparing the number of infected people in the months ahead of the trial. In case the number of cases decrease in the UK, then it might become a little difficult for them to assess the outcome.
The vaccine developers and researchers are also prioritising the recruitment of the local healthcare workers into the trial as their level of exposure to the virus is more.
A much larger trial comprising of over 5000 volunteers is likely going to start in the coming few months.
Since older people have a much more weakened immune system, the researchers are wary whether they might need two jabs of the vaccine or not.
The Oxford team is also in talks with people from Kenya to see whether they can test out the vaccine on the subjects there as well.
The trial volunteers will be monitored very closely in the coming months. They have also been told that side effects of fever, sore arm and headaches are common in the first few days.
The data suggested by the Oxford team suggests that the risks of the vaccine producing an even worse form of the infection in the volunteers are pretty low. The scientists are also looking to ensure that they can produce over 1 million doses of the vaccine ready by September and then scale up the manufacturing process from there.
By Somapika Dutta