London – A vaccine against Covid-19 developed in Britain has shown very encouraging results on rhesus macaque monkeys, one of the animals closest to humans.
In the latest development, the University of Oxford announced a partnership Thursday with the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca that aims to advance rapidly the manufacture of the coronavirus candidate vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, subject to its successful testing in ongoing human clinical trials.
“Our partnership with AstraZeneca will be a major force in the struggle against pandemics for many years to come. We believe that together we will be in a strong position to start immunising against coronavirus once we have an effective approved vaccine,” said Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University in a press release.
Africa Tembelea understands, that the partnership hopes to produce 100 million doses by the end of the year.
“Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation,” AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said.
The first good news came last week from a laboratory in the US state of Montana, where six rhesus macaques, who received a dose of the British vaccine a month ago, did not contract Covid-19 after being exposed to it. Other monkeys who had not been vaccinated caught the virus and fell ill.
– How does ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 work –
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is a recombinant adenovirus vaccine that was developed at Oxford’s Jenner Institute. It was created from a common cold virus that infects chimpanzees, ChAdOx1, that was genetically manipulated to weaken it and prevent it from being able to replicate in humans.
Coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 have a club-shaped protein known as the spike glycoprotein (S protein) on their outer membrane.
According to Tony Hitchcock, Technical Director at Cobra Biologics, “The Oxford vaccine contains the genetic sequence of this surface spike protein inside the ChAdOx1 construct.”
“After vaccination, the surface spike protein of the coronavirus is produced, which primes the immune system to attack the coronavirus if it later infects the body,” he added.
Under normal circumstances, the process of developing, manufacturing, trialling and licensing a vaccine is one that can take between several years to over a decade to complete. And yet, just several months after the COVID-19 outbreak emerged, human clinical trials are already underway.
These are extraordinary times, and as such, scientists and public health authorities are taking extraordinary measures: the Oxford team led by Prof. Sarah Gilbert started designing a vaccine on Friday January 10, and the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 clinical trial was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in just seven working days.
“The dedicated scientific advice and rapid approval of this important clinical trial demonstrate our commitment to working together to find a vaccine for this pandemic,” commented Dr June Raine, Chief Executive for the MHRA.
In a press release, Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University reiterates that the partnership will ensure people across the world, especially in low and middle income countries receive the vaccine.