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Experimental coronavirus vaccine showing promising results

New England Journal of Medicine reports 'encouraging' findings for COVID-19 vaccine candidate
Posted at 3:31 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 17:25:19-04

There is good news regarding a leading coronavirus vaccine from The United Kingdom. Oxford University scientists say that their experimental vaccine produced a protective immune response in hundreds of participants. Details were published in the journal Lancet

Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi is weighing in on the new findings.

I’m excited to share this latest research. It sounds very promising, especially this dual immune response. The testing first kicked off back in April with over 1,000 people between the ages of 18 to 55. Only half of them were given the experimental vaccine. The other half was a control group and they were given something else. So far, what the researchers found was that their experimental vaccine produced a dual immune response. So what exactly does this mean? Well, it means that two things happened. Number one, researchers found that participants produced neutralizing antibodies. That’s important as they can block infection. Number two, the vaccine also caused a reaction in the body’s T-cells. This is great because T-cells also help fight the coronavirus.

The researchers said the dual immune response lasted at least two months. More research regarding this is needed. As for T-cells, they are our immune warriors. They’re a type of white blood cell that finds, attacks and destroys body cells that have been infected. They’re able to fight off some viruses. In fact, it’s actually very common for vaccines to produce both antibodies and a T-cell response in humans. So, that’s why this vaccine is very promising.

This vaccine was made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. It is considered safe and it doesn’t cause infections in humans. That’s because that particular common cold virus has been modified and changed. It now has the spike protein and looks more like the coronavirus. That’s so the body can learn how to attack it.

There was nothing dangerous reported, just minor side effects like fever, muscle pain, and chills. They were easily managed with paracetamol, a common painkiller. As to the next steps, the vaccine’s effectiveness will be tested in a larger trial in several countries. It aims to recruit 10,000 in Britain, 5,000 in Brazil, 2,000 in South Africa, and 30,000 in the U.S.

The researchers hope to know by the end of this year if this vaccine is effective or not. It’s still a waiting game regarding an effective vaccine but this news is certainly encouraging.

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