UK vaccine prompts immune response in early testing


(AP) — Scientists at Oxford University said Monday their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.

Researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine.

In research published Monday in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 15 to 55 who got the shot.

The response lasted at least two months after they were immunized.

“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University.

“What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.

Hill explained that neutralizing antibodies were produced, molecules which are key to blocking infection.

In addition, the vaccine also caused a reaction in the body’s T-cells which help to fight off the coronavirus.

Hill said Oxford’s vaccine is designed to reduce disease and transmission and noted that they have partnered with drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce their vaccine globally.

“Even two billion doses may not be enough,” he said, underlining the importance of having multiple shots to combat the coronavirus.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult to control this pandemic without a vaccine,” he added, noting the continuing surge of infections globally.

Hill said that larger trials evaluating the vaccine’s effectiveness, involving about 10,000 people in the U.K. as well as participants in South Africa and Brazil, are still underway.

Another big trial is slated to start in the U.S. soon, aiming to enroll about 30,000 people.

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