Oxford expands virus vaccine trial to older adults and children


LONDON, May 22, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Oxford University said on Friday it
is recruiting thousands of volunteers for the next phase in human
trials of a coronavirus vaccine that it says are “progressing very

Up to 10,260 adults and children will be enrolled as it expands the
age range of people given the specimen vaccine and involves a number
of partner institutions across Britain.

The university, in south central England, began initial trials in
April, administering more than 1,000 immunisations, with follow-up
currently ongoing, it added.

“The clinical studies are progressing very well,” Andrew Pollard,
head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said in a statement.

“We are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine
induces immune responses in older adults, and to test whether it can
provide protection in the wider population.”

However, Pollard told BBC radio it was “not possible to predict”
when the potential vaccine might be ready for the wider population.

“It is a very difficult question to know exactly when we will have
proof that the vaccine works,” he said.

– Eight trials underway –

Much depended on having enough people who had been exposed to
COVID-19 in the trial’s next phase, he added.

The university and pharma giant AstraZeneca have signed a deal
which could see up to 30 million of 100 million doses for the UK
market available by September.

Oxford’s effort involves its multidisciplinary Vaccine Group, set
up in 1994 to study new and improved inoculations, and the Jenner
Institute, which works on both human and livestock diseases.

It is based on a chimpanzee adenovirus — a common cold virus —
which has been genetically changed to stop COVID-19 replicating in

The first phase of trialling involved 160 healthy volunteers
between 18 and 55.

The next stage of the study will include older adults and children
between the ages of five and 12.

A third set of trials will then assess how the vaccine works “in a
large number of people over the age of 18”.

The university’s potential vaccine is one of only eight globally to
have started trials, according to the World Health Organization, which
counts 118 different projects underway in total.

The British government, which has given the endeavour around o85
million ($104 million, 95 million euros) in funding, has called it one
of the “frontrunners” in the world’s vaccine search.

AstraZeneca said on Thursday said it had secured more than $1.0
billion from the United States to help fund production of the vaccine.