The researchers of the University of Oxford have seen positive results in phase 1 of the trials, which was conducted with 1,000 volunteers. Based on this progress, the university is planning to go ahead with phase 2 and 3.
In April, the phase 1 trial began. In this trial, more than 1,000 immunisations have been completed and follow-up is currently ongoing. The vaccine is administered in a group of healthy adult volunteers. Presently, the university researchers are preparing for the next phase by inviting participants for human trials of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said, “ The clinical studies are progressing very well and we are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population.”
For the next study, the institution will enrol up to 10,260 adults and children. This trial will involve a number of partner institutions across the country, stated the university in its statement.
The phase 2 part of the study involves administering the vaccine among different age groups which include a small number of older adults and children — aged 56-69; aged over 70; and aged between 5-12 years.
This is mainly to understand the immune response to the vaccine in people of different ages. The researchers expect to find out if there is any variation in how well the immune system responds in older people or children.
Meanwhile, the phase 3 part of the study would be about assessing the impact of the vaccine in a large number of people over the age of 18. “This group will assess how well the vaccine works to prevent people from becoming infected and unwell with COVID-19,” it was stated.
The researchers said that the participants in both the phase 2 and 3 groups will be randomised to receive one or two doses of either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or a licensed vaccine (MenACWY) that will be used as a ‘control’ for comparison.
The vaccine is made from a virus (ChAdOx1), which is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees, that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to replicate in humans.
Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, said, “The COVID-19 vaccine trial team have been working hard on assessing the safety and immunogenicity of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and preparing to assess vaccine efficacy.”