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Oxford-vaccine: a cheering response by researchers sets hope to fight virus

  • HEALTH
  • Vishnu Vardhan | TeamPresentMirror | Updated: July 30, 2020, 2:40 p.m.




Oxford vaccine is winning hearts and cheers from experts, after it had released the results of phase 1 and 2 trials, indicating that the vaccine was successful in generating a robust immune response. It is a forefront candidate in the race of vaccines followed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which are being developed at an unprecedented speed.


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Medical researchers across the globe are working day and night to develop an effective vaccine. The development of vaccines for infectious disease of this form, where the entire world stands at one place, is really a matter of concern. There are more than 150 vaccine candidates to combat the corona virus with few of them in late-stage trials across to the world, according to the World Health Organization.

The vaccine developed by Oxford University's Jenner Institute is called AZD1222 and licensed to the multinational pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca.

The company has an agreement with the Serum Institute of India, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. A phase 1 and 2 trails study by lancet on Oxford vaccine showed that the volunteers who participated in the trails developed neutralizing antibodies. There was also an increase in the number T-cells which protect the body from pathogens and cancer cells, and work on destroying infected cells.

How does the vaccine work?

When a person is infected with (SARS-CoV-2) or Covid-19, the main concerning factor is that it spreads in the body easily because of the spikes on its surface. These spikes are commonly known as "Spike Proteins". They allow the virus to penetrate cells and multiply.

The Vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca tries to build body immunity against spike protein. This belongs to a category called Non-replicating viral vector. The core idea is to create antibodies to fight this spiked surface so that the virus does not even have the chance to penetrate the cells.

In Brazil, the phase 3 trials have already begun by targeting 5,000 volunteers.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trials in India are expected to begin by the end of August, and the vaccine will be called Covishield in India.

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Image source: Twitter

Meanwhile, Serum Institute of India, which has tied up with Oxford and AstraZeneca, plans to make “300-400 millions of doses” of the vaccine over the next three months, after it receives a manufacturing license.

The firm CEO Adar Poonawalla said, “We will be applying for the licensure trials to the Indian regulator in a week’s time. As soon as they grant us permission, we will begin with the trials for the vaccine in India.”

Side effects of the vaccine:

With any kind of vaccination there may always be a risk for volunteers who take the vaccine. As per Oxford-AstraZeneca’s data, it has been seen that 60% of the participants recorded mild side-effects as dizziness, headache, fever and light muscle pain. Only a pool of healthy people has participated in the trials who were aged between 18-55 and no other serious side-effects were observed.

The professsor and director of Oxford Vaccine group Andrew J Pollard said, "There haven't been any shortcuts so the quality of the product is looked at exactly the same way and the clinical trials are conducted with the same scrutiny that they would be amid the normal times".

When will the vaccine arrive?

The Oxford vaccine has raised a lot of expectations after its trail results were out and the possibility of arrival of the vaccine would be around the start of 2021. If not Oxford, there are other vaccines (like Sinovac Biotech's Cornovac, Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine) which have entered the final stage of trials.

Serum Institute of India's Poonawalla said following the success of initial and licensure trials, “If everything goes as planned, the vaccine will cost less than Rs. 1,000 per dose in India and also 50 percent of the vaccines will be supplied to India and the rest to other countries of the world.

However, widespread vaccination is off the table this year. By the next year, the vaccine may be available. Apart from the vaccine created by the Oxford University, the Serum Institute is also in talks with other developers to take up additional manufacturing of Corona virus vaccines developed by other institutes.

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