A Tayside respiratory expert has hailed a Covid-19 vaccine as a potential “game-ender” in the battle against the virus.
Dundee University Professor James Chalmers, chair of respiratory research at the British Lung Foundation, welcomed trial results announced yesterday by Oxford University which showed stong immune responses and no early safety concerns.
He said: “This vaccine has been developed more quickly than any vaccine in history and it is remarkable that they are now in a position to move into a large trial to test its effectiveness and safety.
“We talk about game-changers- this is not yet a game changer, but if the vaccine works as well as we all hope it will in the larger study that is now underway it’s not so much a game-changer as a game-ender.
“Covid-19 would become another vaccine preventable disease and life could return to ‘normal’”.
The results of the latest trial into the vaccine, published in the scientific journal The Lancet on Monday, have been hailed as an important step towards producing a safe and effective vaccine.
Prof Chalmers, a frontline member of the Ninewells Covid-19 team and University of Dundee academic, said the results were “encouraging.”
“They show the vaccine is producing a strong immune response that can neutralise the virus which bodes well for larger and longer term studies,” he said.
“The vaccine also looks safe, but its early days because we still need to know whether the immunity generated by the virus will prevent people becoming infected, and demonstrating vaccine safety requires us to follow-up vaccinated patients for a much longer period of time.”
The trial included 1,077 healthy adults aged 18-55 with no history of Covid-19, and took place in five UK hospitals between April 23 and May 21.
An ideal vaccine should be effective after one or two vaccinations and work in target populations including older adults and those with other health conditions, researchers said. It should confer protection for a minimum of six months, and reduce onward transmission of the virus to contacts.
Further trials are taking place in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.
Paper co-author Professor Sarah Gilbert, of Oxford University, said: “There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the Covid-19 pandemic, but these early results hold promise.
“If our vaccine is effective, it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale.”
Dr Mike Lonergan, senior statistician and epidemiologist at Dundee University, said: “The results are about as good as they could have hoped for at this point.
“Nothing dreadful happened to any of the 500 people they gave the new vaccine to, though the majority said it hurt afterwards.
“Five weeks after vaccination immune responses seemed similar to those of people recovering from mild covid, for the people who were tested.”
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