AstraZeneca has finally released the trial results of its developing the Covid-19 vaccine, AZD1222. The collaborative research of the pharmaceutical company and Oxford University is one of the most-awaited vaccines to combat the Coronavirus, aside from others in the running such as Moderna’s mRNA-1237, which is expected to enter Phase 3 trials before the end of July.
Many companies and research institutes in the United States are in the race for developing the first successful Covid-19 vaccine. Moderna, Pfizer, Inovio, and AstraZeneca are among the leading contenders, and altogether, will require 120,000 volunteers for the last stages of clinical trials. Fortunately, more than 107,000 have already volunteered to take part in the process. It is a reflection that the world is on its toes and is anxious for the cure to be distributed and end this pandemic once and for all.
The Phase I/II trial named COV001, was conducted on 1,077 physically fit adult volunteers whose ages ranged from 18 to 55 years old. The AZD1222 is a combination of an almost-inactivated adenovirus (causes infection in chimpanzees, causative agent for common colds) and a Spike glycoprotein, which helps the Coronavirus penetrate human cells. The aim is to make the body produce a counteractive response to the Spike protein and stop the actual virus from entering the host cells.
During the trial, a single dose of AZD1222 is compared to MenACWY, a meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Results showed that the majority of the subjects produced quadruple amounts of antibodies after a month. A separate trial involved 10 participants who received 2 doses of the vaccine with a 1-month interval.
The T-cell response, a white blood cell that plays a huge role in immunity, was induced, reaching maximum levels after 14 days and kept steady for 2 months after administration. According to the chief investigator of the Oxford trial, the vaccine“did not lead to any unexpected reactions and had a similar safety profile to previous vaccines of this type.” Post-administration side effects were just the usual pain at the injection site, manageable headache, fatigue, chills, and muscle ache, among others.
While this result still does not suffice in determining whether or not it will cure or prevent Covid-19, further trials are being planned in other virus-infected countries such as the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. There are also talks of testing vaccine efficacy by intentionally infecting volunteers with the virus after vaccination, but this concerns many due to a lack of available treatments.
The vaccine still has quite a long process to undergo before it can be given the green light for mass production, but researchers are optimistic that it will be able to pass through the trials smoothly and distribute doses as soon as possible.
The UK has already secured a deal with AstraZeneca, awaiting 100 million doses from the company. The country currently has more than 295,000 cases, with 45,318 deaths as of July 20, 2020.