Pig trial of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine shows promise with two shots
By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) - A study in pigs using AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine has shown that two doses of the shot elicit a stronger antibody response than a single dose.
Research published on Tuesday by the British Pirbright Institute showed that administration of an initial main dose followed by a booster dose of the vaccine elicited a stronger immune response than a single dose. This suggests that a two-dose approach may be more effective in providing protection against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
"The researchers saw a significant increase in neutralizing antibodies that bind to the virus in a way that blocks infection," the Pirbright team said in a statement. However, they added that it is not yet known what immune response will be required to protect humans.
The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, also known as AZD1222, was originally developed by Oxford University scientists who are now working with AstraZeneca on development and production.
"These results look encouraging that giving two injections ... increases the antibody response that can neutralize the virus, but it is the human response that matters," said Bryan Charleston, director of Pirbright.
AZD1222 is already in human studies and AstraZeneca hopes to have efficacy data later this year.
Preliminary data from a six monkey trial showed that some of the monkeys given a single shot developed antibodies to the virus within 14 days and all developed protective antibodies within 28 days.
More than 100 potential vaccines are being developed worldwide to fight the pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands.
Stephen Griffin, an associate professor at Leeds University who was not directly involved in this work, said this was "an encouraging advance" and showed that "a so-called" prime boost "strategy leads to far better responses" than a single dose.
"While these studies need to be repeated in humans ... this is an encouraging study," he said.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editor of Jason Neely and Jane Merriman)
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