Oxford's COVID-19 Vaccine Appears Safe And Induces Strong Immune Responses

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 7/24/2020, 6:34 a.m.
Results from trials involving three different coronavirus vaccines released Monday, all showing positive results, with evidence the vaccines can produce ...

Results from trials involving three different coronavirus vaccines released Monday, all showing positive results, with evidence the vaccines can produce immune responses that would be expected to protect people against infection.

They all also appeared to be safe, although it will take studies with more people to show how safe they really are and whether they can prevent infection.

Early results of a closely watched Phase 1/2 trial published in The Lancet suggest a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is safe and induces an immune response. However, researchers stressed more study is needed to know whether the vaccine protects people against the virus.

Phase 2 results for one vaccine candidate made by Chinese company CanSino Biologics were also published in the medical journal The Lancet and early results from Phase 1/2 trials of the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech were released in a pre-print paper that has not yet been peer-reviewed.

The Oxford vaccine prompted an antibody response within 28 days and a T-cell response within 14 days, according to the results published Monday. Neutralizing antibodies -- so-called because they can neutralize the virus -- were detected in most participants after one shot, and in all of them after two.

That’s good news, researchers said. “The immune system has two ways of finding and attack- ing pathogens -- antibody and T cell responses. This vaccine is intended to induce both, so it can attack the virus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attacking infected cells,” University of Oxford pediatrician Dr. Andrew Pollard, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

A Phase 1 study typically studies a small number of people and focuses on whether a vaccine is safe and elicits an immune response. In Phase 2, the clinical study is expanded and the vaccine is given to people who have characteristics -- such as age and physical health -- similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Phase 3, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and again for safety.

Phase 2/3 trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are currently underway in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, and later-phase trials are expected to start in the United States in August.

There were no serious adverse event related to the vaccine; fatigue and headache were the most commonly reported reactions. Other common side effects included pain at the injection site, muscle ache, malaise, chills, feeling feverish and high temperature.

‘There’s A Long Way To Go’

These Phase 1/2 results were promising, researchers said, but large-scale trials are needed to determine whether the vaccine protects against the coronavirus.

“The key elements required to proceed to a Phase 3 trial are all there,” Stephen Evans, a profes- sor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Science Media Center in the UK about the Oxford trial.

“The responses measured in the blood and the absence of serious harms indicate there is a possibility of an effective vaccine against Covid-19. It does not yet show that the disease is reduced or prevented, and this will not be easy to show until phase 3 trials have been completed in settings where the SARS Cov-2 virus is circulating at a high rate and people are getting clinical and severe disease.”