UK’s Imperial College Starts Human Trials For Covid-19 Vaccine

Clinical researchers at Imperial College London are beginning this week the very first human trials of a new coronavirus or Covid-19 vaccine, backed by the UK Government.

With successful trials, the vaccine may be available in Spring 2021, offering protection against COVID-19 to millions across the world.

This will be the second experimental coronavirus vaccine in UK to start trials in humans. A potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by University of Oxford has already initiated human trials, in partnership with AstraZeneca Plc, also funded by the UK Government.

According to Imperial, the vaccine is based on a new self-amplifying RNA technology, and uses synthetic strands of genetic code -called RNA, based on the virus’s genetic material. In comparison, many traditional vaccines are based on a weakened or modified form of virus, or parts of it.

The development and trial of Imperial’s vaccine candidate is being funded with more than 41 million pounds from the UK government and donations of further 5 million pounds.

In the rigorous pre-clinical safety tests and in animal studies, the vaccine has been shown to be safe and produced encouraging signs of an effective immune response. In the initial human trial, lead by Robin Shattock, 300 healthy participants will receive two doses of the vaccine over the coming weeks.

If the first phase is successful, Imperial is planning larger Phase III trials to begin later in the year with around 6000 healthy volunteers.

Imperial’s new social enterprise VacEquity Global Health or VGH, in partnership with Morningside Ventures, aims to rapidly develop vaccines to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and distribute them as widely as possible in the UK and overseas, including to low- and middle-income countries.

In the U.S., Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has funded AstraZeneca with more than $1 billion to develop and produce Oxford University vaccine. The development programme includes a Phase III clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a paediatric trial.

The British drug major also has signed a contract with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance to supply up to 400 million doses of the Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine.

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