OXFORD-ASTRAZENECA: FRONT RUNNER IN COVID-19 VACCINE RACE

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The race to find a vaccine to overcome the deadly coronavirus is gradually coming to reality, as various pharmaceutical companies and countries continue to work at unprecedented speed to finding a lasting solution to the pandemic.

The Oxford University-AstraZeneca project has positioned itself as a front runner among more than 100 vaccine projects ongoing globally, having recently announced that its potential vaccine, AZD 1222, could be available as early as September 2020.

Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown to prompt a protective immune response in the initial trial. Scientists said they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunized.

According to Dr. Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University “We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody, what this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system”.

Only three vaccine projects, including Oxford University-AstraZeneca have reached its third phase of clinical trials. The project began its clinical trial with more than 500 participants in April and is well into its phase 3 stage which is a large trial, involving 30,000 people in the US, 2,000 in South Africa and 5,000 in Brazil.

Hill said Oxford has partnered with drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce their vaccine globally, and that the company has already committed to making 2 billion doses.

Various countries including USA, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Italy have all committed to receive millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine, should it prove effective and gain regulatory approval.

Global progress with other vaccines? The Oxford vaccine is not the first to reach this stage, with groups in the US and China also publishing similar results.

The US company, Moderna was the first out of the block and its vaccine can produce neutralising antibodies. The vaccine being developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, RNA vaccine also works to trigger a similar dual immune response as the Oxford.

Chinese researchers, CanSino Biologics, also published their experiment using a similar technique as the Oxford scientists.  The Chinese shot is made with a human cold virus, and the study showed people whose bodies recognized it didn’t get as much of the presumed COVID-19 benefit. China’s government has already given special approval for the military to use CanSino’s vaccine while it explores final-stage studies.

Nearly two dozen potential vaccines are in various stages of human testing worldwide, with a handful entering necessary late-stage testing to prove effectiveness.

The World Health Organization’s Director-General, TedrosAdhanomGhebreyesus, called for any eventual COVID-19 shots to be fairly distributed globally, saying it was up to political leaders to ensure the most vulnerable populations also get immunized.

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