The widely-followed trials for a coronavirus vaccine at the University of Oxford were described on Friday as progressing “very well”, with experts moving to the next phase after initiating the trial in April, when over 1000 immunisations of its candidate-vaccine were completed.
The next phase involves enrolling up to 10,260 adults and children to assess the immune response to the vaccine in people of different ages, to find out if there is variation in how well the immune system responds in older people or children.
Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said: “The clinical studies are progressing very well and we are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults, and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population”.
“We are very grateful to the huge support of the trial volunteers in helping test whether this new vaccine could protect humans against the pandemic coronavirus.”
Initial results are expected by September. The phase III part of the study involves assessing how the vaccine works in a large number of people over the age of 18. This group will assess how well the vaccine works to prevent people from becoming infected and unwell with COVID-19.
Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, said: “The Covid-19 vaccine trial team have been working hard on assessing the safety and immunogenicity of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and preparing to assess vaccine efficacy”.
“We have had a lot of interest already from people over the age of 55 years who were not eligible to take part in the phase I study, and we will now be able to include older age groups to continue the vaccine assessment”.
Adult participants in both the Phase II and Phase III groups will be randomised to receive one or two doses of either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or a licensed vaccine (MenACWY) that will be used as a ‘control’ for comparison.
The experts said ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is made from a virus (ChAdOx1), which is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees, that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to replicate in humans.
The university has tied up with biopharma major AstraZeneca to produce the vaccine on a mass scale, if the results are successful.
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