The University of Oxford together with British drugmaker, AstraZeneca Plc has developed a Covid-19 experimental vaccine which produces an immune response in both old and young adults, in an effort to fight against the novel Coronavirus. The work towards developing this much-needed vaccine began on the Oxford vaccine in January. Called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the viral vector vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees.
The vaccine triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly and is expected to be one of the first from big pharma to secure regulatory approval, along with Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate. Immunogenicity blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants echo data released in July which showed the vaccine generated “robust immune responses” in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55.
Reports have shown that older people who have received an immune response from the vaccine, come back with positive results because the immune system weakens with age and older people are those most at risk of dying from the virus. If the vaccine works, it would allow the world to return to some measure of normality after the tumult of the pandemic.
“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the Covid-19 disease severity is higher. The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222,” the spokesperson said, referring to the technical name of the vaccine,” said the Spokesperson of AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca has not provided detail of the data or say when it would publish eagerly awaited late-stage phase III trial data, which would show whether the vaccine works well enough in large scale trials for it to be approved. British Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said a vaccine was not yet ready but he was preparing logistics for a possible roll-out mostly in the first half of 2021. The first batch of the vaccine will be going to a London hospital trust.
“We need to see the data before concluding that the responses were ‘similar’,” said Stephen Evans, a Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Evans said that reactogenicity, which refers to common side-effects of vaccines like soreness and redness of the arm, was “often, but not always” associated with a vaccine’s immunogenicity.
“Studies carried out in the first stage of development of a vaccine will result in choosing a dose that does not cause too much reactogenicity,” he continued.
In addition,AstraZeneca has signed several supply and manufacturing deals with companies and governments around the world as it gets closer to reporting early results of a late-stage clinical trial. It resumed the US trial of the experimental vaccine after approval by US regulators.