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Oxford University vaccine triggered an immune response

Image Credit: John Cairns/AP

Oxford University vaccine has triggered an immune response and safe to use. This was tested on 1,077 people. The vaccine triggered the immune system of all the volunteers, to produce antibodies and T-cells, that can fight the coronavirus. The vaccine is called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and is being mass-produced already. The United Kingdom has already secured 100 million doses.

Antibodies are specialized proteins that bind to foreign invaders. These can be viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Antibodies are used by the immune system to find, for example, a virus and mark it for destruction. When antibodies identify the virus, they bind to it, triggering a cascade of reactions that will destroy the virus.

T-cells stimulate the production of more antibodies, but they can also kill host cells infected with the virus, and can use messenger chemicals to signal the immune system to increase its response against the virus. Some T-cells function as memory cells, whereby they provide the immune system with a memory of the virus. This is vital, as the next time the virus enters the body again, the memory T-cell can expand to a large number of effector T-cells.

Profs. Sarah Gilbert from Oxford’s Jenner Institute said that they were very happy with the first results. The vaccine produced a good immunity against the virus after a single dose.

She said, ‘We’re pleased that it seems to be behaving just as we thought it would do. We have quite a lot of experience of using this technology to make other vaccines, so we knew what we expected to see, and that’s what we have seen.’

The Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson immediately called the results, ‘very positive news’. He added, ‘There are no guarantees, we’re not there yet and further trials will be necessary – but this is an important step in the right direction.’

Profs. Sarah Gilbert and her colleagues said that they have no idea when the vaccine might be available. She said, ‘ None of us have a crystal ball.’

Prof. Andrew Pollard, the study’s lead author said, ‘We are seeing exactly the sort of immune responses we were hoping for, including neutralizing antibodies and T-cells responses, which, at least from what we’ve seen in the animal studies, seem to be those that are associated with protection.’

He added that the problem is that, ‘We just don’t know what level is needed if you meet the virus in the wild, to provide protection, so we need to do the clinical trials and to work that out.’

The next stage of the trials will now involve up to 10,000 people in the UK, and it will be expanded to other countries since the number of infected individuals in the UK is not enough to test the vaccine. A large trial involving 30,000 people in the US, 2,000 people in South Africa, and 5,000 people in Brazil form part of the next stage.

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