Researchers at the University of Oxford are looking for over 500 healthy volunteers to test if their vaccine, called 'ChAdOx1 nCoV-19', can prevent the novel coronavirus.
The team at Oxford will enroll healthy volunteers aged between 18–55, who, if pass screening, will be the first humans to test the new vaccine, the university said in a statement on Friday.
The trial, a collaboration between the university's Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group clinical teams, will recruit up to 510 volunteers, who will receive either the 'ChAdOx1 nCoV-19' vaccine or a control injection for comparison.
The trial will provide valuable information on the safety aspects of the vaccine, as well as its ability to generate an immune response against the virus.
The trial has been approved by UK regulators and ethical reviewers. Researchers are working as quickly as possible to get the vaccine ready to be used in the trial, which includes further preclinical investigations and production of a larger number of doses of the vaccine.
Interested individuals can volunteer to participate on the COVID-19 vaccine website, University of Oxford said.
While the team will start screening people now to see if they are eligible to take part in the study, participants will not receive the vaccine for some weeks.
Detailed preclinical work is being done and the vaccine is being manufactured to clinical grade standard at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility at Oxford University.
"The Oxford team had exceptional experience of a rapid vaccine response, such as to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. This is an even greater challenge. Vaccines are being designed from scratch and progressed at an unprecedented rate," said Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.
"The upcoming trial will be critical for assessing the feasibility of vaccination against COVID-19 and could lead to early deployment," Hill said.
Scientists around the world are working hard to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but there is a lot to be done.
The Oxford team led by Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor Andrew Pollard, Professor Teresa Lambe, Dr Sandy Douglas and Professor Adrian Hill started work designing a vaccine on January 10, 2020.
The vaccine is an adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1) and was developed at Oxford's Jenner Institute.
It was chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for a SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) vaccine as it can generate a strong immune response from one dose and it is not a replicating virus, so it cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual, the university said, adding that this also makes it safer to give to children, the elderly and anyone with a pre-existing condition such as diabetes.
Adenoviral vectors are a very well-studied vaccine type, having been used safely in thousands of participants, from 1 week to 90 years of age, in vaccines targeting over 10 different diseases.