Oxford Researchers Say They Developed Blood Test COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy Predictor

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
June 25, 2021 Updated: June 25, 2021

Researchers at Oxford University said on June 24 that they have developed a method to estimate the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines by a blood test.

The researchers said the method “can be used to extrapolate efficacy estimates for new vaccines where large efficacy trials cannot be conducted,” but cautioned that more work is needed to assess correlates for emerging variants.

In their paper (pdf), which was submitted for peer review for publication in a scientific journal on Thursday, researchers outlined how they examined the concentration of several antibodies in the blood of trial participants after they had received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

They then compared that data with blood readings data of both trial volunteers who later contracted symptomatic COVID-19, and those trial volunteers who did not.

“There is an urgent need to increase supply of vaccines for the world, but development and approval of new vaccines takes many months. We hope that the use of correlates by developers and regulators could speed up the process,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and lead investigator on the Oxford Vaccine Trial.

Researchers and regulators around the globe are working on such benchmarks which may allow slower companies in the COVID-19 vaccine development race to provide evidence of efficacy without having to conduct trials with tens of thousands of volunteers.

Those mass trials have so far relied on participants to contract the disease in their normal lives to provide vaccine efficacy results. That becomes more of a challenge where vaccination coverage is already high and the virus is not circulating widely.

The traditional clinical trials also require many participants to get a placebo as a comparison to those who receive the experimental vaccine, posing an ethical dilemma where approved shots are available.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.