After months of anticipation, the first results from the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial have been announced today.
The Phase 1 and 2 trials showed encouraging results, and found that the vaccine is safe, causes few side effects and induces a strong immune response to the virus.
Despite this, the scientists admit that they still don’t know when the vaccine will be rolled out to the public.
Speaking during a briefing this afternoon, Dr Sandy Douglas, one of the scientists leading the trial, explained that a timeline for the vaccine rollout depends on three key factors.
He explained: “It depends on when we get an efficacy result, how much of the vaccine we can manufacture and in what time, and on the clinicians, whose decision it will be on who should receive it and when.”
The trial included 1,077 healthy adults aged 18-55 with no history of Covid-19.
The participants either received the vaccine (543 people) or a control vaccine (534 people).
Meanwhile, 113 participants (56 given the vaccine, and 57 in the control group) were also asked to take paracetamol before and for 24 hours after their vaccination to help reduce vaccine-associated reactions.
The results showed that the vaccine was found to be safe, with no serious side effects.
Fatigue and headache were the most common reactions, while some participants experienced pain at the injection site, fevers, chills and high temperature.
Thankfully, paracetamol was found to reduce these side effects.
In terms of the benefits against the virus, the study found that there were strong antibody and T-cell responses from the vaccine.
Antibody responses peaked by day 28 after vaccination, and remained high until the measurement at day 56.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, co-author of the study, said: “There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the COVID-19 pandemic, but these early results hold promise.
“As well as continuing to test our vaccine in phase 3 trials, we need to learn more about the virus – for example, we still do not know how strong an immune response we need to provoke to effectively protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
“If our vaccine is effective, it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale.
“A successful vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 could be used to prevent infection, disease and death in the whole population, with high risk populations such as hospital workers and older adults prioritised to receive vaccination.”