Oxford vaccine: The human trial of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford and backed by AstraZeneca Plc has shown a positive result. Officially known as AZD1222, the vaccine has prompted a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot, according to a report published in British medical journal Lancet. The vaccine did not prompt any serious side effects, the journal said.

The widely-followed trial is currently at an advanced stage, with trials in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa. Collaboration has already been reached between Oxford, UK government, and biopharma major AstraZeneca to produce the vaccine on a mass scale if the final results are also positive. The Serum Institute of India is one of the global partners for its production.

The journal also reported that phase 2 of a vaccine trial in China has also been found to be safe and induces an immune response. The randomized controlled trial of a recombinant adenovirus type-5-vectored Covid-19 vaccine (Ad5-vectored Covid-19 vaccine) was conducted in China in April and involved more than 500 people.

The vaccine candidate has been developed by the Jenner Institute, a part of the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. The formulation is backed by AstraZeneca PLC, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.

“We are working on the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine which is undergoing phase III clinical trials. Besides, we will also start human trials in India in August 2020. Based on the current situation and most recent updates on the clinical trials, we are hoping that the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine will be available towards the end of 2020,” Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla told news agency PTI.

AstraZeneca has already committed to making 2 billion doses.

The researchers said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55. “We are seeing the good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is triggered both arms of the immune system,” he said.

The vaccine uses a weakened version of chimpanzee adenovirus as a vector, infused with the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Explaining how the Oxford vaccine works, study lead author Andrew Pollard said: “The new vaccine is a chimpanzee adenovirus viral vector (ChAdOx1) vaccine that expresses the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein”.

What is the Phase III human trial

For the unversed, stage III of clinical trials (or human trials) is where medical experts and scientists dose thousands of volunteers with the vaccine candidate to understand if the vaccination provides active protection against the coronavirus. This is the final stage trial done just before getting approval from the regulatory authorities to launch the vaccine for mass-usage. As of now, vaccine candidates developed by the University of Oxford, Chinese company Sinopharm and Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinovac have reached Phase III of human trials.