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Yes, the Oxford covid-19 vaccine is promising, but let’s not celebrate just yet. Here’s why

Published on:22 July 2020, 18:19pm IST
When it comes to covid-19, things are changing every day. So while the Oxford covid-19 vaccine is showing promising results, it is too soon to hail this “cure”.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Is the wait for covid-19 vaccine over? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Human trials are on for the covid-19 vaccine and everybody is eagerly waiting for the results. On July 20th 2020, when the early results of ‘ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 ’ developed by Oxford University were published in the medical journal The Lancet,  we all had a reason to celebrate. 

In an interview to CNBC, Oxford Vaccine Group Co-Director Adrian Hill said that the covid-19 vaccine he is helping to develop with AstraZeneca is “more than likely” to work and expects to have millions of doses ready by the end of the year and billions in the next 12 months. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

Here are some updates about Oxford’s covid-19 to bring you up to speed:

1. The covid-19 vaccine was developed by a team of scientists of the Jenner Institute of the Oxford University. What is remarkable is that they have done all this within 3 months.

2. This vaccine is touted to provide double immunity and is called out to be safe in the trials. According to the Lancet report, the Oxford vaccine prompted an antibody response within 28 days and a T-cell response within 14 days. This gives birth to antibodies which neutralizes the virus in most participants after one shot, and in all of them after two.

3. The good news is that the vaccine is “well-tolerated” by the volunteers and no major side effects were observed. “Now what this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system in addition to neutralizing antibodies which other vaccines do, we also see a very strong T-cell response,” says Professor Hill.

4. The vaccine will undergo phase 3 in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK. Oxford University has been licenced to the British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca for the vaccine.

Who’s going to be the front runner when it comes to covid-19 – Russia or the UK. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. The UK giant has also partnered with Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and it is now expected that 20 million vaccines will be developed between them.

The results are promising, but let’s not celebrate just yet
No we aren’t being cynical about the entire process. The vaccine is yet to enter the third phase. It’s only when it successfully crosses the fourth and the last stage—which requires testing on a very large group of people—will it be ready for deployment. 

Not to mention that if in any stage of the human trial the vaccine shows any adverse side-effects, then the scientists will have to start again from scratch.

In India, SII will be the flag bearer of the Oxford vaccine

In India, the vaccine MIGHT see the light of the day only by 2021
Speaking at an online discussion organised by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO), Poonawalla Group Chairman Cyrus Poonawalla said that if this entire process goes to plan, the phase three trials will take two months after the patients get injected and the vaccine will get a final nod by November. In such a scenario, the vaccine will be introduced in India either “quarter one or two” of next year, he added.  

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So we Indians will have to wait till 2021 to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully though, the government of India is showing its support to the SII initiative. NITI Aayog member V K Paul said, “Regulatory facilitation will be ensured. It is already being undertaken. If resources need to be supplemented, that will also be actively considered. The government of India will leave no stone unturned to ensure that people of India and the international community have access to an Indian vaccine as early as possible.”

So, while the Oxford vaccine is instilling a lot of hope, we will have to wait and watch what phase 3 and 4 have in store and by when this vaccine can be realistically deployed in India to end this pandemic. 

 (With inputs from PTI & Hindustan Times)

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.