I am hearing there will be positive news soon (perhaps tomorrow) on initial trials of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine that is backed by AstraZeneca and supported by tens of millions of pounds of government money.
The first data is due be published in the Lancet. Apparently the vaccine is generating the kind of antibody and T-cell (killer cell) response that the researchers would hope to see.
That said, the efficacy will only be properly established in the large phase III programme that is underway in the viral epicentre of Brazil, to deliver a large database that assesses safety as well as efficacy.
One source told me: ‘An important point to keep in mind is that there are two dimensions to the immune response: antibodies and T-cells…’
Everybody is focused on antibodies but there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the T-cells response is important in the defence against coronavirus.
As I understand, not all of the many vaccines under development across the world increase both antibodies and T-cells. But the Oxford vaccine looks as though it has this twin effect.
It remains relatively early days: No effective vaccine has ever been developed as rapidly as is being attempted for Covid-19. And there could still be disappointment and failure.
If the Oxford vaccine is proven effective, it could go into mass production as early as September.
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