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Oxford University Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Produces Strong Immune Response

(Illustration: Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

An early human trial of Oxford University’s experimental coronavirus vaccine has yielded a strong immune response in hundreds of people, according to newly released data.

The potential vaccine, which the U.K. university developed in partnership with drugmaker AstraZeneca, was administered in a trial that involved 1,077 people and caused an immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted two months or slightly longer, according to data published Monday by the medical journal The Lancet. The vaccine, which is made from a combination of coronavirus genetic material and a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees, caused the body to produce antibodies against the coronavirus and caused a reaction in T-cells, a type of white blood cell that also helps stave off infection.

“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, which focuses on developing vaccines. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system.”

Larger trials of the vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, with about 10,000 participants are currently underway, and a trial looking to test 30,000 people in the U.S. is expected to begin within the next few weeks, Hill said. Even as testing of the vaccine’s effectiveness is underway, AstraZeneca said it is working to manufacture 2 billion doses, including 400 million for the U.S. and UK, with distribution to the public pending on the success of the clinical trials.

The vaccine caused no serious adverse events but did cause minor side effects including fever, chills, headache, and muscle pain.

At least 23 of about 100 experimental coronavirus vaccines have reached the human trial stage, including Oxford’s trial. Widespread availability of a vaccine for the coronavirus, which has infected more than 14 million people globally and killed more than 606,200, is expected next year if trials are successful.

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