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'Important milestone' - Hopes for coronavirus vaccine soar after success of first clinical trial


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Hopes for a vaccine against the coronavirus soared today after the first clinical trial of a potential jab found it to be safe, well-tolerated, and able to generate an immune response against the infection.

The research, just published in the Lancet, revealed the findings after testing the vaccine on 108 healthy adults.

It demonstrated promising results after 28 days—the final results will be evaluated in six months.

Further trials are needed to tell whether the immune response it elicits effectively protects against coronavirus.

“These results represent an important milestone. The trial demonstrates that a single dose of the new vaccine produces virus-specific antibodies and T cells in 14 days, making it a potential candidate for further investigation”, says Professor Wei Chen from the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in Beijing, China, who is responsible for the study.

“However, these results should be interpreted cautiously.

“The challenges in the development of a COVD-19 vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to trigger these immune responses does not necessarily indicate that the vaccine will protect humans from COVID-19.

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“ This result shows a promising vision for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, but we are still a long way from this vaccine being available to all.”

The creation of an effective vaccine is seen as the long-term solution to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, there are more than 100 candidate COVID-19 vaccines in development worldwide.

The new Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine evaluated in this trial is the first to be tested in humans.

It uses a weakened common cold virus (adenovirus, which infects human cells readily but is incapable of causing disease) to deliver genetic material that codes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to the cells.

These cells then produce the spike protein, and travel to the lymph nodes where the immune system creates antibodies that will recognize that spike protein and fight off the coronavirus.

The trial assessed the safety and ability to generate an immune response of different dosages of the new Ad5-nCoV vaccine in 108 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 60 years who did not have SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Volunteers were enrolled from one site in Wuhan, China.

The vaccine candidate was well tolerated at all doses with no serious adverse events reported within 28 days of vaccination.

Most adverse events were mild or moderate, with 83pc (30/36) of those receiving low and middle doses of the vaccine and 75pc (27/36) in the high dose group reporting at least one adverse reaction within 7 days of vaccination.

The most common adverse reactions were mild pain at the injection site reported in over half (54pc, 58/108) of vaccine recipients, fever (46pc, 50/108), fatigue (44pc, 47/108), headache (39pc, 42/108), and muscle pain (17p, 18/108).

One participant given the higher dose vaccine reported severe fever along with severe symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, and muscle pain—however these adverse reactions persisted for less than 48 hours.

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