Battling COVID-19: Human trials for novel coronavirus vaccine begin at UK
As the world races to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, researchers working at the Imperial College of London have started human trials for a new coronavirus vaccine. The UK government has allotted £41 million for developing the vaccine and an additional £5m is gathered through philanthropic donations.
According to Professor Robin Shattock, from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial, “The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed several lives and had a huge impact on daily life. In the long-term, a viable vaccine could be vital for protecting the most vulnerable, enabling restrictions to be eased and helping people to get back to normal life.”
The vaccine for COVID-19 is based on RNA technology, offering genetic signals to build the “spike” protein on the top of the coronavirus surface. Once injected inside the muscle, the RNA multiply the copies of itself and instructs the body cells to make various copies of a spiky protein found on the surface of the virus. This is effective in boosting the immunity and preventing the body against the infection of COVID-19 in future. The vaccine samples proved effective in animal studies. Two vaccine doses would be offered to 300 healthy volunteers in the upcoming weeks. If the vaccine comes out to be effective and emerges as a good immune response in humans, the researchers will begin the next phase of trials on a large level with over 6,000 healthy volunteers.
Earlier, the researchers planned to set up a special company for better access to poor countries once the vaccine is developed. VacEquity Global Health (VGH), a venture is set up by the Imperial College and Hong Kong-based Morningside Ventures for distributing the vaccine worldwide.
Recently, Oxford University has initiated an advanced study with over 10,000 volunteers for it. The US is also planning to ambush the next month with around 30,000 volunteers testing different vaccines on candidates.