Oxford scientists are enrolling the first volunteers to test a UK coronavirus vaccine, in a dramatic acceleration of the typical pace of drug development, The Guardian reports.
The trial will recruit up to 510 healthy adults, aged 18 to 55, to test the vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The participants will not receive the vaccine for some weeks.
While screening of participants takes place, the vaccine will continue to be assessed in animal trials at the Public Health England (PHE) laboratory at Porton Down, near Salisbury and, simultaneously, be manufactured to clinical grade standard at a University of Oxford facility.
Prof Adrian Hill, the director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, said: “Vaccines are being designed from scratch and progressed at an unprecedented rate. The upcoming trial will be critical for assessing the feasibility of vaccination against Covid-19 and could lead to early deployment.”
The Oxford team previously worked on a rapid vaccine response during the Ebola outbreak in west Africa in 2014. Hill said coronavirus had posed an “even greater challenge”.
The team needs people without Covid-19 and is likely to exclude anyone on medication and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Some will be injected with the vaccine and others with a control injection for comparison. It is expected to be months before scientists know whether the vaccine is effective, as larger trials will be needed and participants’ immune response will need to be monitored.
The number of confirmed cases of people with coronavirus across the world has surpassed 723,000, over 34,000 people have died, while more than 152,000 have recovered, according to information provided by international research groups.