By Arré Bench Apr. 24, 2020
A small glimmer of hope in the Covid-19 fight has emerged in Europe, where the first patients were injected with the Chadox1 vaccine in the United Kingdom. Developed by researchers at Oxford University, Chadox1 is the fourth of more than 70 candidates to enter the clinical trial phase.
Nearly two months after the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic that led to a string of lockdowns across the world, another glimmer of hope has emerged in Europe. As the race to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 continues to gather pace, the first patients were injected with a probable vaccine in the United Kingdom on Thursday.
The latest of the vaccines that the WHO has said are currently under development, Chadox1 has been developed by researchers at Oxford University, and was administered to two of the 800 patients who signed up to be a part of the trial.
We’re throwing everything at developing a #coronavirus vaccine. Brilliant that from today the first trials on humans begin in the UK. Thank you to all involved in this colossal effort. @UniofOxford pic.twitter.com/xZhOB2sFSa
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) April 23, 2020
Sarah Gilbert, the professor who led the pre-clinical research told the BBC that she was “very optimistic” about its chances of success. But the answer will only be clear once the number of people who get infected with Covid-19 is compared in the next couple of months.
We made it! The first batch of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine that is being used in the clinical trials here in Oxford was manufactured by my marvellous team at the CBF. We take no credit for the conception or the design, but we will take credit for having gone from DNA construct to…
— Catherine Green (@CathGreenLab) April 23, 2020
The UK trial of Chadox1, meanwhile, has an Indian connection, as well. The Serum Institute, headed by Adar Poonawalla has partnered with the Oxford project and is part of one of the seven institutions behind manufacturing the vaccine.
In an interview with India Today, Poonawalla said that the need of the hour was to make the vaccine accessible to as many people as possible, and hence, his institute will not be patenting any vaccine or taking any royalties.
Poonawalla was joined by Doctor Adrian Hill, who is part of the team that developed Chadox1. Hill indicated that he was hopeful of the vaccine’s success for a number of factors, including the fact that that particular technology has been used before, and that it was a “single dose” vaccine. Poonawalla added that he had a lot of faith that his Oxford colleagues would succeed.
In about two weeks’ time, we should be able to produce at the rate of 5 million doses a month: @adarpoonawalla on #Coronavirusvaccine#Newstrack live: https://t.co/4fqxBWbTYl pic.twitter.com/OpVe6Wf9ge
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) April 22, 2020
But the optimism isn’t restricted only to the UK. Over in Germany, another vaccine has been authorised for clinical trials. Over 200 healthy citizens have volunteered to undergo the vaccine program, developed by biotechnology company, BioNTech.
First human trials for #COVID19 vaccine start in Germany and the UK today. We must wish all these brilliant, dedicated minds and others doing similar work across the globe every success – for ALL our sake
— Gina Miller (@thatginamiller) April 23, 2020
The WHO had, earlier this month, put out a list of 70 Covid-19 vaccine candidates. Of the list, Chadox1 was the fourth to enter the clinical trial phase. This week, the World Health Organization said there were 83 coronavirus vaccines in development globally, six of which are already in human trials.
But within the headlines announcing these vaccines and cures lie several cautionary tales. For instance, one of the drugs that had led to widespread hope last week, remdesivir, has reportedly failed in its first randomised clinical trial in China, according to the WHO.
Still, as countries rush to develop a vaccine for this deadly panic, and the best scientists in the world are focussed on finding a cure, it’s only a matter of time before one emerges as a success. Until then, the best we can do is keep our hopes up.