The outbreak of Coronavirus has turned the normal lives of people upside down. As people are trying to adjust themselves to the life in quarantine, the researchers are trying their best to find a cure.
And guess what? There has been a key breakthrough in the vaccine research for COVID-19 already!
Let’s know more about it now!
COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford
The vaccine for COVID-19 is already on its way for trials. Researchers of the University of Oxford have developed ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 – a viral vector vaccine.
The team of the researchers who made this vaccine were led by Sarah Catherine Gilbert. Gilbert is a Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford in the UK. She’s also a leading scientist at the Jenner Institute of the university.
UK’s National Institute for Health Research and the UK Research and Innovation awarded a grant of $2.8 million to Gilbert and her team in March 2020. The grant will help the team’s efforts in vaccine preclinical and clinical trial.
About the COVID-19 vaccine
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is a recombinant viral vector vaccine. So what does that mean?
Recombinant vector vaccines are produced using recombinant DNA technology. Live viruses are mutated to carry extra genes into the body of a person. These extra genes then generate proteins against which immunity is produced.
The vaccine will prepare the immune system to recognize and attack the coronavirus which will stimulate a T-cell response. T-cell response is a primary immune response in which infected cells are killed by the T-cells present in the body.
Currently, Gilbert and her colleagues are solely focusing on the development of COVID-19 vaccine. They have suspended all other vaccine research projects to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine research project.
When will it be available?
The COVID-19 vaccine trials have just begun. 500 volunteers belonging to the age group of 18-55 years have been recruited for the vaccine trials. Early and mid-staged trials will be conducted on these 500 people.
If trials are successful, then they will move on to older adults in the next stage. In the final stage, the trials will be extended to a group of 5,000 people.
During the trials,510 people will be divided into five different groups. These will be monitored for about 6 months.
The Lancet quoted Gilbert, “The best-case scenario is that by the autumn of 2020, we have an efficacy result from phase 3 and the ability to manufacture large amounts of the vaccine, but these best-case time frames are highly ambitious and subject to change.”
But it’s still not so easy…
Although Professor Sarah Gilbert has reached a breakthrough moment that will probably relieve the masses from the ongoing misery, it’s still not going to be easy.
The challenges are many. The main problem arises due to the differences in virus infection rate. Gilbert explains the problems that her team is facing:
“The trial has to be set up in the right place at the right time and that’s very hard to predict. That’s why we’re planning to do multiple trials in multiple countries.”
Then the next challenge is going to be the money. Gilbert says, “We have some funding but we don’t have all of it yet. You can’t just go and start manufacturing at large scale. You have to put a lot of things in place and that’s what we’re trying to do at the moment. It’s in the order of tens of millions of pounds.”
And what if the vaccine even comes on time? Its production and distribution will not be that easy, given the large scale outbreak. And testing is still a problem in many places.
But we have a ray of hope now and that is something to look forward to. If this vaccine turns out to be effective, then definitely that’s a good start. Now let’s keep hoping for the best.
Until next time!