Imperial College begins human trial of coronavirus vaccine candidate COVAC1

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Imperial College London said that it has dosed the first healthy volunteer with its COVAC1 coronavirus vaccine candidate, which has been developed using the new self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) technology.

The university claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine candidate has gone through rigorous pre-clinical safety tests, and in animal studies, it has been demonstrated to be safe, besides evoking promising signs of an effective immune response.

The UK government is backing the clinical development of the COVAC1 coronavirus vaccine candidate with funding of more than £41 million.

According to Imperial College London, the first participant will receive a second booster dose within four weeks. Various other participants are likely to get a first dose of the investigational vaccine for COVID-19 over the coming days.

The clinical team will continue to watch all participants closely for safety, and also see if they generate antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Imperial College London begins human trial of coronavirus vaccine candidate COVAC1

Imperial College London begins human trial of coronavirus vaccine candidate COVAC1. Photo courtesy of Imperial College London.

In the initial stage of the COVID-19 vaccine trial, 15 healthy volunteers are given the COVAC1 vaccine candidate, starting with a low dose and escalating to increasingly higher doses for the next set of volunteers, to evaluate the safety and to determine the optimal dosage.

In the coming weeks, 300 healthy participants are likely to receive a couple of doses of the coronavirus vaccine candidate. If the investigational COVAC1 vaccine for COVID-19 is safe and demonstrates an encouraging immune response in humans, then larger trials will be planned for later in the year, said Imperial College London.

Professor Robin Shattock, from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, who is leading the work, said: “The first participant marks an important step for our saRNA vaccine platform, which has never before been trialled in humans.

“We now eagerly await rapid recruitment to the trial so that we can assess both the safety of the vaccine and its ability to produce neutralising antibodies which would indicate an effective response against COVID-19.”

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