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Two shots of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine may be the solution to the pandemic

CAstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be released in the months of September or October.

A trial of AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine on pigs has found that two doses of the shot elicited a stronger immune response against the virus.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : June 25, 2020 1:00 PM IST

Many experts have opined that a vaccine is the only solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. And scientists are racing against time to find the drug that works against the novel coronavirus. More than 100 potential vaccines are being developed around the world to control the pandemic, which has so far killed 469,587 people (according to WHO). A few vaccine candidates are already showing promise in clinical trials and one of these is expected to be released by September this year. It is AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, called AZD1222, which is leading the race. The British pharmaceutical giant had earlier this month announced that they will be rolling out the vaccine for the masses in the months of September or October.

In the latest development, trial of AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine on pigs has shown promise with two shots. The researchers found that two doses of the shot an initial prime dose followed by a booster dose of the vaccine produced a greater antibody response against the virus than a single dose. Britain's Pirbright Institute on Tuesday released the finding of the research. Based on their findings, the Pirbright team suggested that a two-dose approach may be more effective in getting protection against COVID-19.

However, Pirbright team noted that what level of immune response will be required to protect humans is not known yet. While these results look encouraging, it is the response in humans that's important, they stated. Some other scientists, who were not directly involved in this work, also called it a heartening study and stressed the need to be repeated within human subjects.

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Some facts about AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

This vaccine, which was initially called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, was originally developed by Oxford University scientists, who are now working with AstraZeneca on the project. Now known as AZD1222, this adenovirus vaccine was one of the first prototypes to reach the clinical trial stage and the first to enter phase 3 studies. Earlier this month, AstraZeneca revealed that it has already begun making the AZD1222 jab in factories in the UK, Switzerland, Norway and India, with production of two million doses underway. The Cambridge-based company has also signed pacts with the US and UK, agreeing to produce up to 400 million doses for America and 100 million for the United Kingdom if the human trials prove successful.

How AZD1222 vaccine works?

This potential COVID-19 vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees. The researchers genetically modified the virus to stop replicating it in humans. The Oxford research team, which is developing the vaccine, claims that the drug will enable the body to recognise and develop an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and stop it from entering human cells and thus prevent infection.

In April, The UK government had announced a 20 million pounds funding for the Oxford project. Human trials of the vaccine are also underway in Brazil, which is one of the worst affected countries in the world. The result of the is expected by the end of the summer (August).

A preliminary trial found that some of the monkeys given a single shot of AZD1222 vaccine developed antibodies against the virus within 14 days, and all developed protective antibodies within 28 days.

Moderna's mRNA-1273 is another vaccine candidate that is in top list. It is currently in crucial phase 2 trials. Currently, 10 vaccine candidates are in human trials four in the US, five in China, and one in the UK.

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