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Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine proves effective in monkeys, researchers await human trial results

  • Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine proves effective in monkeys, researchers await human trial results
    Keenly-watched COVID-19 vaccine 'won't be expensive', developer says. Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine proves effective in monkeys, researchers await human trial results
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By Reuters
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Researchers involved with the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 trials have said that the vaccine has shown signs of producing an immune response in rhesus macaque monkeys' immune systems against the deadly coronavirus. Keenly-watched COVID-19 vaccine 'won't be expensive', developer says.

The experimental vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is one of the front runners in the global race to provide protection against the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preliminary data from a small trial of the experimental vaccine in six monkeys found that some of the animals given a single shot developed antibodies against the virus within 14 days, and all developed protective antibodies within 28 days.

When the monkeys were exposed to the new coronavirus, the vaccine appeared to prevent damage to the lungs and kept the virus from making copies of itself there, although it was still actively replicating in the nose.

Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, which has teamed up with the drugmaker AstraZeneca (AZN.L) to develop the vaccine, said ensuring wide distribution and low cost have been central to the project from the start.

“This not going to be an expensive vaccine,” Hill told Reuters in an interview. “It’s going to be a single dose vaccine. It’s going to be made for global supply and it’s going to be made in many different locations. That was always our plan.”

Hill said the data from the animal tests were “encouraging of course” and reinforced his team’s high degree of confidence that ongoing human trials of the shot will also show positive results. The first signals on whether and how well it works could come as early as July or August.

Hill’s team began early-stage human trials of the vaccine in April, making it one of only a handful to have reached that milestone.

Hill said that as of this week, more than 1,000 people have been dosed in the trial - with around half getting the experimental vaccine and the other half serving as a control group.

Asked about the progress of the human trials, Hill said he and his team “are not going to give a running commentary” but added: “You can conclude that if the trial is still running - as it certainly is - that would mean there have been no major upsets.”