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Covid vaccine’s trial offers glimmer of hope

Covid vaccine’s trial offers glimmer of hope

By Stephanie Horsman - October 29, 2020

A new vaccine being developed by Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca could be on the market as early as the end of this year.

The difference between this vaccine and others currently being tested is that the immune response is just as good in older people, who have proven to be the most susceptible to the virus, as it is in younger people. This has raised hopes that protection for all is just around the corner.

Neither entity was forthcoming with the actual data from these early trials, but the results have been forwarded on for peer review to medical journals as well as shared at a closed-door academic meeting recently.

The second phase of the trials for the vaccine, temporarily being called AZD1222, showed an antibody response in people over age 56, and some in the over 70 category, that was equal to that of younger testers. This is important because as people age, their immune response deteriorates, leaving older people more vulnerable to the virus. Vaccines tested up to now have not been able to elicit as high a response in older people, making this a real potential breakthrough.

The initial findings also show AZD1222 has fewer side effects than previous trial inoculations. Unforeseen side effects caused a temporary halt when a UK volunteer fell ill during earlier testing.

Clinical trials on the vaccine have now resumed around the globe, though.  A worldwide pause from 6th September allowed independent international regulators to examine the safety data, and they have now given it the all-clear.

“The restart of clinical trials across the world is great news as it allows us to continue our efforts to develop this vaccine to help defeat this terrible pandemic,” said Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer of AstraZeneca. “We should be reassured by the care taken by independent regulators to protect the public and ensure the vaccine is safe before it is approved for use.”

This final testing phase is looking specifically at the difference in the number of deaths between inoculated people and those who are not. Trials are taking place in six countries: Brazil, South Africa, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

 

AstraZeneca says the jab may be ready for limited use by the end of the year, though a general roll-out is unlikely before 2021. If approved, the company has committed to manufacturing three billion doses, which equates to enough for 1.5 billion people.

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