Human Trial of Coronavirus Vaccine Begins in the UK

A health worker sanitizes her hands before putting on a mask. Photo: WHO
A health worker sanitizes her hands before putting on a mask. Photo: WHO

The first human trial of a coronavirus vaccine in Europe has begun in Oxford, UK. According to BBC, 2 volunteers – who are among the first of more than 800 people recruited for the study – have been injected.

Half of these volunteers will receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and half a control vaccine which protects against meningitis but not coronavirus. According to the BBC report of April 23, the vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees that has been modified so it cannot grow in humans.

The Oxford team has already developed a vaccine against Mers, another type of coronavirus, using the same approach – and that had promising results in clinical trials, the report adds.

[ Covid Health Bulletin Covers Global Coronavirus News and Views ]

A larger trial, of about 5,000 volunteers, will start in the coming months while the Oxford team is also working with researchers in Kenya about a possible vaccine trial there, where the rates of transmission are growing from a lower base.

The BBC report informs that the trial volunteers will be carefully monitored in the coming months. They have been told that some may get a sore arm, headaches, or fevers in the first couple of days after vaccination.

If the vaccine is effective, scientists hope to have 1 million doses ready by September. Subsequently, depending on the results, they will scale up manufacturing of the vaccine.

Scientists have largely maintained that the effective vaccine for COVID-19 may not be available during the next 12-18 months.

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Rakesh Raman