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UK, China, USA report vaccine hopes

Tuesday July 21st 2020

The UK's Oxford-based vaccine continues to show promise as do vaccines developed in other parts of the world, according to a series of announcements yesterday.

Researchers in the UK, China and the USA all reported triggering immune responses from a range of vaccines that are under development. They are among 250 vaccines under development worldwide.

British researchers reported strong antibody and T cell responses 56 days after vaccination in their study of more than 1,000 healthy adults.

Side-effects had to be managed with paracetamol, they said

The British vaccine is a chimpanzee adenovirus viral vector. Researchers found more than 90% of recipients had antibody responses from a group of 35 participants.

Researcher Professor Sarah Gilbert said: "There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the COVID-19 pandemic, but these early results hold promise. As well as continuing to test our vaccine in phase 3 trials, we need to learn more about the virus - for example, we still do not know how strong an immune response we need to provoke to effectively protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

"If our vaccine is effective, it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale."

Fellow researcher Professor Andrew Pollard said: “We saw the strongest immune response in the 10 participants who received two doses of the vaccine, indicating that this might be a good strategy for vaccination."

The UK has access to 90 million doses of potential vaccines through new deals with the pharmaceutical industry, it was announced.

Under a new initiative 500,000 people are being recruited to help with vaccine trials.

Campaigners accused wealthy countries of hoarding vaccine doses.

Roz Scourse, of the Medecins Sans Frontieres Access Campaign, said: “This deal is the UK’s latest attempt to get first access to COVID-19 vaccines. Access to a successful vaccine should not be determined on who can pay the most, but on health needs and should prioritise health care workers and vulnerable populations worldwide.

"Despite what the UK has been saying about the need to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines globally, what these secretive deals will actually do is use up initial supplies of vaccines, undermining allocation according to need. The UK should act on their words and commit to working with the World Health Organisation to ensure those who need it most get these vaccines first, wherever they live.”

Alex Harris, from Wellcome, said: “Meeting the global demand of billions of doses will require more than one vaccine; it is in the best interest of all governments to work openly and collaboratively, pooling expertise and funding to access the broadest pool of promising candidates.

“COVID-19 is a global challenge: no one is safe until everyone is safe. The fastest, most effective way to beat the disease and end this pandemic is by securing vaccines, tests and treatments for those who are at most risk everywhere.”

Kate Bingham, chair of the UK government's vaccine taskforce said:
“The Vaccine Taskforce is investing in a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates to maximise the chances of finding a vaccine quickly that meets the UK’s rigorous regulatory and safety standards. The fact that we have so many promising candidates already shows the unprecedented pace at which we are moving. But I urge against being complacent or over optimistic.

"The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.”

* Chinese researchers also announced successful phase 2 trials of a recombinant adenovirus type-5-vectored COVID-19 vaccine.

The study, in Wuhan, China, involved 500 people and reporting in The Lancet the researchers say it proved safe and triggered an immune response.

The researchers say that 91% of patients in a low dose group showed an antibody or T cell response 28 days after vaccination. There was no antibody increase in a group who received placebo. Almost 90% showed T cell responses.

Researcher Professor Feng-Cai Zhu, of the Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, China, said: "The phase 2 trial adds further evidence on safety and immunogenicity in a large population than the phase 1 trial. This is an important step in evaluating this early-stage experimental vaccine and phase 3 trials are now under way."

* A replicating RNA vaccine has shown promise, producing antibodies in animal trial, researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, reported.

The findings are reported in Science Translational Medicine. Researchers said the level of antibodies was comparable with those found in people recovering from viral infection.

Lancet 20 July 2020

Science Translational Medicine 20 July 2020

Tags: Asia | Flu & Viruses | North America | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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