The latest on the Covid-19 vaccine

Dr William Bird William Bird
The latest on the Covid-19 vaccine

This week, Dr William Bird talks about the recent results of the vaccine trial developed to try to combat Covid-19.

There has been some good news this week as the initial findings of a clinical trial into a possible treatment for Covid-19 have been published in The Lancet medical journal.

The results from the first phase of the University of Oxford’s trial suggest that the Coronavirus vaccine 'stimulates antibody and T-cell response'.

What this means is that the trial vaccine stimulates the production of Y-shaped proteins known as ‘neutralised antibodies’ that should latch onto the Coronavirus and prevent infection. It also stimulates the production of T cells; another key part of the immune system which destroy any cells that have become infected.

A study of 1,077 adult volunteers were injected with a common cold virus with parts of coronavirus inserted, to trigger an immune response. Results demonstrated that the vaccine was safe - and also that two doses provided a better response than one. The results are still laboratory based so now they will need to test the vaccine in real life to see if the antibody response is good enough to prevent an infection. These trials are already underway in Brazil where there is a higher level of Coronavirus infections.

There are more than 150 Coronavirus vaccines in development across the world, with the Oxford one now set to begin final tests, with the possibility of being manufactured in September 2020. However, my opinion, shared by many other doctors is that widespread vaccination is unlikely to occur this winter since the long-term safety aspects of the vaccine take longer to conclude.

There are trials taking place internationally, so the next step is to test it in the real world on different groups, such as pregnant women, children and the elderly to ensure that it is effective and safe for all.

This is good news and we’re also seeing a fall in the number of deaths from Covid, but we’d still urge you to keep observing simple habits, such as washing hands regularly, not touching your face and social distancing. As ever, we’d also encourage you to keep exercising and building up your immune system to prevent against a winter peak. The vaccine results have been described as a ‘breakthrough’ but there is still much work to be done, and the virus will be part of our lives for a long time to come.