Researchers at Imperial College London will this week begin clinical trials of a possible coronavirus vaccine in 300 people.

The healthy participants, aged between 18 and 70, will all receive two doses of the vaccine over the coming weeks, and the hopes is that tests could then move on to 6,000 volunteers if there is an effective immune response.

Rather than giving people a weakened form of the illness, the Imperial vaccine instead uses synthetic strands of genetic code based on the genetic material of Sars-CoV-2, the “novel coronavirus” responsible for the pandemic.

How would a coronavirus vaccine work and will we even get one? – video explainer

Robin Shattock, the Imperial College London professor leading its development, has told Bloomberg that early protective vaccines might not completely stop a person contracting the virus. “Is that protection against infection? Is it protection against illness? Is it protection against severe disease? It’s quite possible a vaccine that only protects against severe disease would be very useful.”

When injected, the Imperial experimental vaccine instructs muscle cells to produce virus proteins to protect against future infection. In animal tests, the vaccine was shown to be safe and showed “encouraging signs of an effective immune response”, Shattock’s team said.

The research has been funded by £41m from the UK government, as well as £5m of other donations, and comes after a separate vaccine from experts at Oxford University started undergoing human clinical trials.

With Press Association and Reuters


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