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Potential Oxford vaccine fails to prevent Coronavirus spread in monkeys

Date: 20 May 2020 Tags: Biotechnology

Issue

A high-profile potential vaccine for COVID-19 being tested by researchers at Oxford University failed to protect vaccinated monkeys from being infected by the virus. However, the test animals appeared to be protected from pneumonia.

 

Background

The vaccine candidate, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, being tested is a weakened form a common cold virus (adenovirus) that affects chimpanzees but has been neutered to prevent replication in humans.

 

Details

  • Reports of the candidate vaccine’s performance in monkeys (rhesus macaque) had prompted researchers to test the vaccine’s potency in humans. 

  • However, detailed results of the trials in monkeys available suggest that, based on these results, the vaccine may not be the panacea to protecting people from being infected and passing on the infection to others.

  • All the animals were monitored for seven days to check if they developed Covid-19. The researchers found that though the vaccinated animals developed virus-specific neutralising antibodies, they all had SARS-CoV-19 in their respiratory tracts.

  • Moreover, the levels of virus shed by all the monkeys were similar, which indicates even vaccinated animals can spread the infection to others.

  • The researchers acknowledge the presence of virus in the upper respiratory tract. Despite this marked difference in virus replication in the lungs, reduction in viral shedding from the nose was not observed.

  • They explain it as being possibly due to the unusually high amount of the virus that the monkeys were exposed to. Unusual, in that human beings were unlikely to be ordinarily exposed to those quantities of the virus.

  • Virus specific neutralising antibodies were detected in those macaques vaccinated and no such antibodies were seen in those that didn't get the vaccine.

  • If similar results were obtained in humans, the vaccine would likely provide partial protection against disease in the vaccine recipient but would be unlikely to reduce transmission in the wider community.

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