What’s the latest on the Oxford vaccine?
Promising findings from the initial trials of the Oxford vaccine were published in July. 1,077 people were vaccinated in these early trials, and the vaccine led to strong antibody and T-cell responses, suggesting that their immune systems would be well equipped to fight the coronavirus if they were infected.
However, on 9 September there seemed to be a setback, when it was widely publicised that the stage 3 trial had been put on hold because one of the people who had received the vaccine had had an ‘adverse reaction’. Medical details of the individual who had the adverse reaction can’t be made public due to confidentiality rules, but this pausing of trials is a standard procedure that often happens in the process of developing new vaccines.
Around 18,000 people around the world have now been given the Oxford vaccine, and with such a large number of participants it is to be expected that some will become unwell. It is important that this is closely investigated to work out whether the illness is a consequence of being vaccinated. As vaccines are given to large numbers of healthy people they have to pass even more stringent safety checks than other medicines.
There has now been an investigation by the independent UK regulator, the MRHA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), and it was announced on 12 September that the Oxford vaccine trial had been allowed to restart.