Early trials of the University of Oxford coronavirus vaccine appear to be safe and trigger an immune response in patients, according to the findings published in The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal.
The phase 1 trials saw the vaccine tested on 1,077 people who made antibodies and T-cells that could technically fight the coronavirus. Still, it is too early to know if the vaccine can indeed offer protection.
"There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the Covid-19 pandemic, but these early results hold promise," said Professor Sarah Gilbert, of the University of Oxford to the Lancaster Guardian.
"As well as continuing to test our vaccine in phase-three trials, we need to learn more about the virus – for example, we still do not know how strong an immune response we need to provoke to effectively protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection."
Gilbert added that the type of vaccine is one that can be manufactured at a larger scale.
Larger trials of the vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 are now underway. The U.K., however, has already ordered 100 million doses.
The vaccine is being developed from a heavily genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. It has been altered not to cause infections in humans and to resemble more the coronavirus.
The researchers created the vaccine by transferring the genetic instructions for the SARS-CoV-2's spike protein to the vaccine under development. The spike protein is the one used by the virus to invade our cells.
Researchers hope their vaccine will enable the human body to identify and develop an immune response to the spike protein. This would then thwart the virus from entering human cells, preventing infection.
"A successful vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 could be used to prevent infection, disease, and death in the whole population, with high-risk populations such as hospital workers and older adults prioritized to receive vaccination," Professor Gilbert added.