A Wave of Good Results in COVID-19 Vaccine Studies

[Health Report ]

By Caty Weaver
21 July 2020

Researchers are reporting progress in the race to develop a safe and effective vaccine against the new coronavirus. The disease it causes, COVID-19, has killed at least 610,000 people worldwide. More than 14.7 million people have been infected.

Two different experimental vaccines have produced strong immune reactions in people involved in the studies. And neither produced serious unwanted effects. The separate research was published Monday in the British medical journal The Lancet.

The most promising of the two preventative medicines comes from a partnership between Oxford University in Britain and drug maker AstraZeneca. The company has signed agreements with many governments to supply its vaccine if it proves to be effective and wins legal approval. AstraZeneca has promised to make 2 billion vaccine treatments.

Screen grab from video released by Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials to test a possible coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in Britain on April 23, 2020.
Screen grab from video released by Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials to test a possible coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in Britain on April 23, 2020.

The New York Times newspaper reports that the vaccine has been given to more than 10,000 volunteers in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. It says 30,000 people in the United States are to receive the experimental vaccine next week.

The drug company CanSinoBiologics Incorporated and the Chinese military is developing the other vaccine. It was tested on 508 healthy volunteers who received one treatment each, the researchers reported. Most of those tested showed a good immune reaction.

About 77 percent of the volunteers reported temporary side effects, including increased body temperature and pain at the place of injection. None of the side effects were severe or unusual, the researchers reported.

Both the AstraZeneca and CanSino vaccines use a harmless adenovirus to carry genetic material from the new coronavirus into the body.

"Overall, the results of both trials are broadly similar and promising," Naor Bar-Zeev and William Moss wrote in The Lancet. Both writers are vaccine experts at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

Also Monday, the drug maker Pfizer and its partner BioNTech reported success on their vaccine candidate. That study was small, involving 60 healthy adults. Outside experts have not yet examined the research findings.

Last week, the medical research company Moderna announced strong immune reaction in tests of a vaccine developed by researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. However, the volunteers involved in that research reported more unwanted effects such as tiredness, head pain, chills and muscle pain.

Dr. Peter Hotez is an infectious diseases expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. On Monday, he told the American news group CNN that "the first vaccines may not be our best vaccines." Hotez said it would probably take another year to produce all the necessary evidence that the new coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective.

Early Tuesday, European leaders agreed on a $2.1-trillion budget. The agreement includes $857 billion in coronavirus support that will be issued as loans and aid to the hardest-hit countries.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Words in This Story

immune -adj. of or relating to the body's defense system

journal -n. a magazine that reports on things of special interest to a particular group of people

chills -n. a feeling of being

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