The first volunteers for the coronavirus vaccine trial have received their first doses as scientists desperately try fight the illness which has now claimed the lives of 18,738 in the UK.
Scientists at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, have began the first human trial in Europe by administering the trial injections, which were developed in under three months, to more than 800 volunteers on Thursday.
The trial will see half of the candidates injected with the coronavirus vaccine, made from a weakened version of the common cold virus from chimpanzees, while the other half will be given a meningitis vaccine.
The volunteers will not be told which vaccine they have received.
Among the volunteers being given the trial coronavirus vaccine is microbiologist and Elisa Granato (pictured)
The volunteer, who was injected with the vaccine on Thursday, said that she wanted to take part in the trail as a way to support the cause
Half of the volunteers will be injected with the coronavirus vaccine which is made from a weakened version of the common cold virus from chimpanzees
Microbiologist and volunteer Elisa Granato told the BBC: ‘Well I’m a scientist so of course I want to try and support the scientific process wherever I can and since I don’t study viruses I felt a bit useless these days so I felt this is a very easy way for me to support the cause.’
Researchers at the institute, who created the vaccine using technology they have previously used for successfully treating diseases such as Mers and Ebola, are confident that the trial will pave the way for millions of vaccines being made available to the public by September.
By taking a version of the common cold virus, ChAdOx1, and modifying it so that it does not grow in humans, scientists hope the process will activate an immune response that will protect humans.
Professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, Sarah Gilbert, who led the pre-clinical research, said she was 80 per cent confident about the outcome of the vaccine.
She told the BBC: ‘Personally I have a high degree of confidence in this vaccine.
Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, said she was 80 per cent confident in the vaccine
Researchers have taken a version of the common cold virus, ChAdOx1, and modified it before giving it to the participants. (Stock image)
‘Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to demonstrate it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wider population.’
Lydia Guthrie, who is also taking part in the trial, told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One programme: ‘They’ve (the clinical team) been very clear with participants about the potential risk, and vaccine trials are very carefully regulated, so we’ve had to give explicit consent at every step of the way.
‘They’re really clear with us that as participants we can pull out at any time if we change our minds.’
Once the vaccine, which is made from a weakened version of the common cold virus from from chimpanzees, is injected into participants it will prompt the body to produce antibodies and T-cells which will in turn destroy the virus.
Scientists, who will pursue a larger trial of about 5,000 volunteers in the coming months, will know if the vaccine has worked by looking at the number of candidates who become infected with the virus from the two groups.
The first human trial comes as Britain announced another 616 coronavirus victims today, taking the total number of fatalities in the UK to 18,738.
Another 4,583 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, meaning 138,078 have now been officially diagnosed. The number of positive tests has remained stable this week and appears to be plateauing.
NHS England confirmed a further 514 people have died with COVID-19 and another 102 deaths were announced across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Today’s figure marks a fall of 37 per cent from the worst day in Britain’s statistics, April 10, when 980 people were confirmed to have died – and is lower than the 759 recorded yesterday.