A clinical trial for a possible CCP virus vaccine began in the United Kingdom on Thursday, researchers said.
The vaccine candidate was developed by the University of Oxford. The trial is being run by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group.
One volunteer received the vaccine candidate while another received a control vaccine, MenACWY, used to protect against meningitis and sepsis.
The pair were going to be monitored for 48 hours. If all went well, another six participants will be vaccinated on day three. After another 48-hour monitoring period, the trial would progress to vaccinating larger numbers of volunteers.
Researchers announced last month that they started screening health volunteers for the trial, which will analyze the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“This study aims to assess whether healthy people can be protected from COVID-19 with this new vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It will also provide valuable information on safety aspects of the vaccine and its ability to generate good immune responses against the virus,” the research team said in a blog post.
The vaccine is made from the ChAdOx1 virus, a weaker version of the common cold virus adenovirus, that has been genetically changed so it can’t grow in humans.
Genetic material was added to the construct to make proteins from the the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus called Spike glycoprotein. The goal is for the vaccination to trigger an immune response to the protein that will help stop the virus from entering human cells.
Up to 1,102 people will be recruited across study sites in Oxford, Southampton, London, and Bristol. Some will get the vaccine while others will get MenACWY and serve as a control group.
Ten volunteers will be separately recruited and receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine four weeks apart.
Participants will receive a diary to record any symptoms they experienced in the seven days after receiving a vaccine and will be asked to note if they feel unwell for the following three weeks. Volunteers will attend a series of follow-up visits.
Data for seeing if the vaccine works could come as soon as a couple of months but up to six months, depending on the level of transmission in the community. If the vaccine doesn’t work, the team plans to review what happened, examine alternative approaches, and potentially stop the program.
“The Oxford team had exceptional experience of a rapid vaccine response, such as to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014,” Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, said in an earlier statement. “This is an even greater challenge. Vaccines are being designed from scratch and progressed at an unprecedented rate. The upcoming trial will be critical for assessing the feasibility of vaccination against COVID-19 and could lead to early deployment.”
Another professor, Andrew Pollard, said, “Starting the clinical trials is the first step in the efforts to find out whether the new vaccine being developed at Oxford University works and could safely play a central role in controlling the pandemic coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.”
A handful of other vaccines are already in human trials, including ones developed by the U.S.-based Moderna and Inovio Pharmaceuticals.
Though the ChAdOx1 vaccine isn’t close to being ready, it is already being produced.
Dr. Sandy Douglas, who is leading the vaccine manufacturing scale-up project, said in a statement this week: “The scale of this epidemic poses a huge challenge for vaccine manufacturing. We need to follow rigorous safety standards and that takes time. By starting work on large-scale manufacturing immediately, we hope to accelerate the availability of a high quality, safe vaccine.”