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Oxford Covid-19 vaccine ‘safe and effective’, indicate first human trials



The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by scientists at the University of Oxford has been found to induce ‘a strong immune response’ with ‘no early safety concerns’.

The results from human trials into the vaccine, published today in the Lancet, showed that it provoked a T-cell response within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days.

The Oxford team started work on developing a vaccine in January this year, entering a global licensing deal with Astra Zeneca and backed by a UK Government investment worth £65.5m.

The randomised controlled Phase I/II trial launched in April, including 1,077 healthy adult volunteers aged between 18 and 55 years. These were injected with the vaccine or a placebo MenACWY vaccine between April and May, with ‘no serious advert health events’ observed related to the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine.

The researchers said the strongest immune response was seen in volunteers who received two doses – a subset of 10 of the participants.

The researchers added that they will need to undertake a larger study to determine whether the vaccine will protect patients against infection with Covid-19.

Study co-author Professor Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford Jenner Institute, said: ‘These encouraging results support further evaluation of this candidate vaccine in our ongoing large scale Phase III programme, that is still needed to assess the ability of the vaccine to protect people from Covid-19.’

The UK Government agreed a deal in May with AstraZeneca to make up to 30m doses of the Oxford vaccine available by September for the UK, as part of an agreement to deliver 100m doses in total, should it prove safe and effective.

Earlier this month, practices were told to ‘gear up for a major expansion of the winter flu programme’ as part of the QOF for 2020/21, as well as focus on restoring care for early cancer diagnosis and people with learning disabilities.