A new possible vaccine candidate to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

This week the race for a long-awaited vaccine proceeded somewhat further as the joint mega collaboration effort between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford instilled new hope for the medical community and the world as its vaccine trial was given the go-ahead by the MHRA (Medicines Health Regulatory Authority) after being halted by reports of a severe immune reaction in a volunteer.

The vaccine, known as AZD1222, is one of the first to reach the Stage 3 trial phase of what is a long and technical process filled with uncertainty. The World Health Organization has cited AZD1222, a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus that contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein.

Phases of a vaccine trial

With the hundreds of vaccine candidates in the race for a final vaccine against the coronavirus, we attempt to break down the headache, inducing “stages” of a trial.

Before going on to the manufacturing stage, a vaccine trial contains three significant phases.

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The first phase includes an attempt to assess the candidate vaccine in humans involves a small group of adults, usually between 20-80 subjects. If the vaccine is intended for children, researchers will first test adults, and then gradually step down the age of the test subjects. 

A larger group of several hundred individuals participates in Phase II testing. Some of the individuals may belong to groups at risk of acquiring the disease. Successful Phase II candidate vaccines move on to larger trials, involving thousands to tens of thousands of people. These Phase III tests are randomized and double-blind, even involving the experimental vaccine being tested against a placebo.

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Source: The History Of Vaccines

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