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Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine to start human testing on 23 April

Imperial College London vaccine project also receives funding

Coronavirus vaccine

The first patients will receive a COVID-19 vaccine developed at the University of Oxford starting tomorrow, said the UK government, which has made £20m (around $25m) in funding available for the project.

Another £22.5m is being made available to a second vaccine project at Imperial College London to support phase 2 trials and help prepare for a larger phase 3 study, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday.

“The vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday,” he said during the government’s daily coronavirus press conference yesterday, adding that a vaccine is the “best way” to defeat the virus and bring the UK out of lockdown.

He also reiterated an earlier commitment to provide financial support to build manufacturing capacity for coronavirus vaccines, so stocks can be built up quickly if they prove effective in clinical testing.

The £14m pot announced last Friday included £2.2m to help manufacture the Oxford University vaccine, and £1.8m for the Imperial College candidate.

The latest announcement came as the UK recorded another 823 deaths from COVID-19, taking its total to 17,337.

The Oxford trial is testing ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a candidate based on a chimpanzee adenovirus modified to include the spike or ‘S’ protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

It will be tested in around 500 volunteers and will focus on safety and tolerability, as well as providing an initial assessment of how effective the shot is at stimulating an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.

The Oxford team – led by Professor Sarah Gilbert – has previously tested an adenovirus-based vaccine against MERS-CoV, another coronavirus that caused an outbreak some years ago, finding that it could generate an immune response for at least a year after dosing.

A long-acting response is critical as there is some evidence to suggest natural immunity to SARS-CoV-2 could be short-lived, making it possible people who have had the virus before could be at risk of re-infection unless immunised.

The Imperial candidate has been developed by a team led by Professor Robin Shattock and is an mRNA vaccine against the S protein on SARS-CoV-2 – using a similar approach to a vaccine developed by US biotech Moderna which is already in clinical trials.

Imperial’s mRNA vaccine has been in animal testing since early February and could be ready for human safety testing in June.

The team say they are seeking further philanthropic support to conduct parallel international trials to accelerate progress and ensure the vaccine is widely available globally, including in low and middle-income countries.

“Both of these promising projects are making rapid progress and I've told the scientists leading them we will do everything in our power to support them,” said Hancock during the briefing.

Article by
Phil Taylor

22nd April 2020

From: Research

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