Early data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines released on Monday, including a closely-watched candidate from Oxford University, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognize and fight the novel coronavirus without serious side effects.
Whether any of these efforts will result in a vaccine capable of protecting billions of people and ending the global pandemic that has claimed more than 600,000 lives is still far from clear. All will require much larger studies to prove they can safely prevent infection or serious disease.
The vaccine being developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca along with the Oxford University, induced an immune response in all study participants who received two doses without any worrisome side effects.
A coronavirus vaccine under development by CanSinoBiologics Inc and China’s military research unit, likewise showed that it appears to be safe and induced an immune response in most of the 508 healthy volunteers who got one dose of the vaccine, researchers reported.
Some 77% of study volunteers experienced side effects like fever or injection site pain, but none considered to be serious.
Both the AstraZeneca and CanSino vaccines use a harmless cold virus known as an adenovirus to carry genetic material from the novel coronavirus into the body. Studies on both vaccines were published in the journal The Lancet.
“Overall, the results of both trials are broadly similar and promising,” Naor Bar-Zeev and William Moss, two vaccine experts from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in a commentary in The Lancet.