AstraZeneca could supply potential coronavirus vaccine from September

Grant Boone
May 23, 2020

A top US scientist said on Wednesday that governments should not count on a successful vaccine against COVID-19 being developed anytime soon when deciding whether to ease restrictions imposed to curb the pandemic.

"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 Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Researchers are mainly looking for healthcare staff and other public-facing workers to join the trial as in order to get a clear signal on the vaccine's efficacy, they need a minimum number to catch the coronavirus in their everyday lives.

"It is really quite promising in the sense of that in the phase one study - which is the first step towards the development of a vaccine through its multiple phases ― the vaccine induced what we call neutralizing antibodies, as opposed to just binding antibodies", he said.

The objective is to assess the immune response in people of different ages, and see if there are any differences in how the young and old react to the vaccine.

A small study in monkeys offers a note of caution: Teams from Oxford and the U.S. National Institutes of Health found the vaccine protected against pneumonia but didn't eliminate the coronavirus in the nose.

Adult participants in the phase II and phase III groups will be randomised to receive one or two doses of either a vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or a licensed vaccine (MenACWY) that will be used as a "control" for comparison.

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William Haseltine said it is possible for a vaccine to be developed, but cautioned "I wouldn't count on it". "This group will assess how well the vaccine works to prevent people from becoming infected and unwell with COVID-19", they said in the statement. "How quickly we reach the numbers required will depend on the levels of virus transmission in the community".

Dr. Anthony Fauci made a series of positive comments on Moderna's early COVID-19 vaccine data, sending shares more than 5% higher on Friday.

Adding: "There is uncertainty about how many cases there will be in the next three months".

With leaders across the world surveying some of the worst economic destruction since at least World War Two and the deaths of more than 327,000 people, many are scrambling for a vaccine. Scientists at Israel's Tel Aviv University and biopharmaceutical company Neovii, for example, recently announced a project to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

On NPR's "Morning Edition" Friday, he delivered a similar message.

Fox News' Christopher Carbone contributed to this article.

Britain agrees deal on antibody tests: PM's spokesman
Up to 4,000 people of all ages and backgrounds will participate in the pilot, which will run for up to six weeks. However, it is yet to be confirmed what level of immunity , if any, infected people develop.

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