Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine opens for clinical trial: Researchers and Scientists from the University of Oxford have begun the clinical trials for what could emerge to be the first vaccine effective against the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.

As the world is grappling with thousands of deaths and lakhs of coronavirus-infected cases, there is some hope as the world’s top university Oxford has announced its vaccine is entering Phase 1 clinical trials in humans.

In a press release, the University of Oxford stated that its researchers working in an unprecedented vaccine development effort to prevent COVID-19 have started screening healthy volunteers (aged 18-55) on Friday for their upcoming ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine trial in England’s Thames Valley. The vaccine based on an adenovirus vaccine vector and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is already in production but won’t be ready for some weeks still.

The trial is being conducted as a collaborative effort between the University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine group clinical teams as part of a “rapid vaccine response” to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a significant development in humanity’s fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has already claimed more than 25000 lives across the world with over half a million confirmed cases”, Prof Vasan told The Hindu from Australia.

They are in the pursuit of recruiting up to 510 volunteers who will be subjected to either the developed vaccine or a control injection for comparison of the results and effectiveness.

The Oxford University through its press release has also invited interested individuals to volunteer to participate in the COVID-19 vaccine and register on its website.

The researchers have begun the screening of healthy volunteers in the age group of 18-55 years from last Friday (27 March). The ones who pass the screening shall become the first humans to test the new vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

Although this is the second vaccine to enter Phase 1, Oxford’s ‘viral vectored’ technology is more established, compared to Moderna’s RNA vaccine, which was the first to enter Phase 1. No RNA vaccines are currently licensed for human use.

The vaccine is presently being manufactured at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility at Oxford University to the clinical grade to then be ready for use in trials.

“The Oxford team had the exceptional experience of rapid vaccine response, such as to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. This is an even greater challenge,” said Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.