Oxford vaccine candidate shows promise in small study in monkeys

An experimental coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University appears to be effective at preventing COVID-19, according to findings from a small study in six monkeys.

Oxford scientists posted the preliminary findings on the vaccine on the preprint server bioRxiv early Thursday.

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Preprints are studies that have not undergone a rigorous peer-review process required for publication in medical or scientific journals. But many scientists have been releasing results to the public in the form of preprints because of the high level of interest surrounding potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The new report from Oxford University is based on the vaccination of six rhesus macaques. These monkeys are considered to be good proxies for how drugs could work in people because they share a majority of their genes with humans.

The animals were given half of the dose currently being tested in human. Those trials began on April 24 and include about 1,110 people.

Researchers reported at least some of the monkeys developed antibodies to the virus within 14 days of being vaccinated, and all of the vaccinated animals had evidence of antibodies within 28 days.

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What’s more, researchers said the vaccine appears to have prevented pneumonia and other lung problems in the animals after they were exposed to the coronavirus.

Still, there is no guarantee the Oxford vaccine will ultimately prove to be successful. Studies in humans are ongoing, and this research team is one of several around the globe working at an accelerated pace to find a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus.

But so far, the Oxford vaccine appears to hold the most promise of becoming the first vaccine to be widely accessible, if proven to work.

Oxford scientists previously said they hope to have enough data to show the vaccine is effective by the beginning of June, and predicted the vaccine could be produced by September.

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