A coronavirus vaccine the University of Oxford is developing with British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca showed promising results in early human testing, a sign of progress in the high-stakes pursuit of a shot to defeat the pathogen.
AstraZeneca has signed agreements with governments around the world to supply the vaccine should it prove effective and gain regulatory approval.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the update on the vaccine was "very encouraging news".
"There are no guarantees, we're not there yet & further trials will be necessary - but this is an important step in the right direction".
Researchers also cautioned that the project was still at an early stage.
More promising data on a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and its German biotech partner, BioNTech boosted their shares Monday.
Earlier today, United Kingdom has signed agreements to buy 90 million doses of vaccines in development by drugmakers including Pfizer Inc., BioNTech SE and Valneva SE, joining countries around the world racing to secure supplies of protection against the pandemic.
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The candidate vaccines each use different methods to provide immunity.
The vaccines are being researched by an alliance between the pharmaceutical companies BioNtech and Pfizer as well as the firm Valneva, reports the BBC. The proposed COVID-19 vaccine, called AZD-1222, caused more minor side effects than the meningitis one, but the study's authors stated that acetaminophen, or paracetamol, relieved the drug's effects, according to The Lancet (pdf).
The new trial included 1,077 healthy adults aged 18-55 years with no history of COVID-19.
Two potential vaccines to protect against the novel coronavirus - one from Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc and the other from China's CanSino Biologics - induced immune responses in healthy volunteers without causing unsafe side effects, according to studies published on Monday in The Lancet.
"The immune responses observed following vaccination are in line with what we expect will be associated with protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, although we must continue with our rigorous clinical trial program to confirm this", said Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial.
Meanwhile the Ad5-nCOV vaccine under development in China by CanSino Biologics and China's military research unit has shown to be safe and induced immune response in most of the recipients, researchers said.
Governments around the world are keenly following the results of numerous vaccine trials in a bid to stem the pandemic.