Oxford researchers report positive results from early vaccine trial

Oxford researchers report positive results from early vaccine trial
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A coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University showed positive results in early trials, triggering an immune response, researchers said Monday.

"The immune responses observed following vaccination are in line with what we expect will be associated with protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, although we must continue with our rigorous clinical trial programme to confirm this," Andrew Pollard, a professor at Oxford working on the trial, said in a statement.

The researchers published results in the journal The Lancet on Monday, showing the potential vaccine triggered responses in both parts of the immune system, increasing antibody levels and T-cell levels.

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"While there is more work to be done, today’s data increases our confidence that the vaccine will work and allows us to continue our plans to manufacture the vaccine at scale for broad and equitable access around the world," said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president at AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company working with Oxford to manufacture the vaccine.

The results released Monday are from Phase I/II trials. A larger, Phase III trial will be needed to fully show that the vaccine is effective.

The Oxford vaccine is one of the furthest along of a wide range of vaccines being developed. Oxford researchers have even previously said it is possible it could be ready this fall, an extremely ambitious timetable.

Oxford professor Adrian Hill told NBC News on Monday that a vaccine could still be ready this year.

"A vaccine later this year is not impossible, a lot of things would have to go right for that to happen and to be deployed in 2020, but we’re still targeting that," he said.

Manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine, though, is another challenge, in addition to showing that it is safe and effective.

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In May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $1.2 billion deal with AstraZeneca for 300 million doses of the vaccine for the U.S., with the first doses "delivered as early as October 2020."

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciDemocratic chairman says White House blocked FDA commissioner from testifying Overnight Health Care: CDC reverses controversial testing guidance | Billions more could be needed for vaccine distribution | Study examines danger of in-flight COVID-19 transmission Trump claims enough COVID-19 vaccines will be ready for every American by April MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has put the timeline for a vaccine at the end of this year or early next year, and even that is an extremely ambitious timetable.

Another leading vaccine candidate, from the U.S. company Moderna, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, showed positive early results as well last week and is slated to begin a Phase III trial later this month.