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, said Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the university's Jenner Institute who is leading the research.
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. We will also be including more study sites, in different parts of the country, she 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.
For the latest set of volunteers, researchers will be assessing 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.
"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, said Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group.
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. 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 university said.
Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President for BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, which has a partnership with the university for the production of the vaccine if it is proved effective, said: The speed at which this new vaccine has advanced into late-stage clinical trials is testament to Oxford's ground-breaking scientific research.
We will do everything in our power to engage with governments, multilateral organisations and partners around the world to increase production and distribution and ensure rapid, fair and equitable distribution of a globally accessible vaccine.
The study aims to assess how well people across a broad range of ages could be protected from Covid-19 with this new vaccine. It will also provide valuable information on the safety aspects of the vaccine and its ability to generate good immune responses against the virus.
The team behind the vaccine have previously said they are aiming to have at least a million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by September this year. However, the UK government has repeatedly warned that there are no guarantees a vaccine will be discovered against the deadly virus.
The Oxford University trial is among several experimental vaccines being developed worldwide to try and combat the spread of Covid-19 and help lift strict restrictions on human movement in place in most countries.
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.