“Tomorrow. Vaccines. Just to comment.” With those words, Richard Horton, the controversial editor-in-chief of The Lancet, implied that today the magazine brought juicy information. And so it has been: the coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford seems safe and triggers an immune response.
This news joins that of Moderna and announces a very tight race to obtain the first useful vaccine against the disease. And in this case, like the previous one, the results are similar: promising findings, lack of definite certainties and some side effects.
What we know about the Oxford vaccine
How does it work? The Oxford researchers have used a genetically modified virus to create the vaccine. The idea was to introduce two new “features” into a typical chimpanzee common cold virus: the first was to make sure it couldn’t make humans sick, and the second was to make it look like SARS-CoV-2. In this way, the virus would be harmless to people, but it would help our immune system to locate and combat the real coronavirus.
What results has it given? The team has looked for two key things in the development of immunity: the activity of T cells and the presence of antibodies in the blood. According to The Lancet data, T-cell levels peaked 14 days after vaccination and antibody levels peaked after 28 days. Still, as it is reasonable for the short time that the vaccine has been developing, it is not known how long the immunity that it can get will last.
Of course, for now it is known that it is greater than 56 days. It is also interesting, and this may be an advantage over the Moderna vaccine, analyzes suggest that 90% of those who have received the vaccine develop antibodies with only one dose. There is a small group of people who have undergone two doses, but we do not yet have the definitive data from that work.
Side effects Indeed, 70% of those who received the vaccine developed mild side effects (headache, fever, fatigue, etc …). In principle, all of them seem to remit easily with paracetamol.
And now? Now to continue working. These studies, with 1077 patients, focus primarily on product safety. Now it’s time to study if it really is effective against the disease (especially against other medications). In this phase, many drugs fail due to not being able to find an adequate dose that can be used with patients. In the next few days, more than 30,000 people in the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa and Brazil are scheduled to inject the vaccine to continue studying its effects.