Imperial College London’s Covid-19 vaccine human trial to begin this week

The college announced the human trial on Tuesday as new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that London has recorded the sharpest decline in the number of dead and cases in recent weeks. The capital was a hotbed in April and May.
File photo of a scientist working in the lab at Imperial College London, UK. The Cvvid-19 vaccine developed at the lab will go into human trial this week.(via REUTERS)
File photo of a scientist working in the lab at Imperial College London, UK. The Cvvid-19 vaccine developed at the lab will go into human trial this week.(via REUTERS)
Updated on Jun 16, 2020 06:17 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, London | By

A vaccine developed at Imperial College London will go into the human-trial phase this week in the hope that it will be available for mass vaccination in the spring of 2021, as another trial at the University of Oxford in its second phase is said to be “progressing quickly”.

The college announced the human trial on Tuesday as new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that London has recorded the sharpest decline in the number of dead and cases in recent weeks. The capital was a hotbed in April and May.

Unlike traditional vaccines based on a weakened or modified form of virus, or parts of it, the Imperial vaccine adopts a new approach using synthetic strands of genetic code (called RNA), based on the virus’s genetic material. Nearly 300 healthy volunteers are to receive two doses.

Once injected into muscle, the college said the RNA self amplifies – generating copies of itself – and instructs the body’s own cells to make copies of a spiky protein found on the outside of the virus. Experts hope that this will train the immune system to respond to the coronavirus so the body can easily recognise it and defend itself against the virus in future.

Robin Shattock from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College who is leading the vaccine study, said: “From a scientific perspective, new technologies mean we have been able to get moving on a potential vaccine with unprecedented speed”.

“We’ve been able to produce a vaccine from scratch and take it to human trials in just a few months – from code to candidate - which has never been done before with this type of vaccine. If our approach works and the vaccine provides effective protection against disease, it could revolutionise how we respond to disease outbreaks in future,” he added.

ONS’s figures are considered more thorough than the daily numbers of the Department of Health, which only cover people who tested positive for coronavirus and died, whereas the ONS figures cover any death where coronavirus was mentioned as a factor on the death certificate.

The ONS said that the number of deaths involving coronavirus continued to decrease across all English regions with the number of deaths in London falling below the five-year average. In Week 23, Wales had the highest percentage of all cause deaths above the five-year average with 14.8%.

“In contrast, the number of deaths in Week 23 registered in London was 2.8% fewer than the five-year average, the first region in England to go below the five-year average since Week 13”, it said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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