Study proves value of infection studies in developing new vaccines

Covid-19

A study led by the University of Oxford has successfully investigated human immunity against Covid-19 in people who already have antibodies, with the aim of advancing future vaccines and treatments.

The results suggest that previous infection, together with vaccination, offers strong protection against the original Covid-19 strain.

Over 99% of the UK population and 59% of the world’s population is seropositive, which means they already have antibodies against Covid-19. This means finding seronegative volunteers for an infection model is increasingly very difficult.

For developing new treatments and vaccines, researchers create Controlled Human Infection Models (CHIMs), where they deliberately infect healthy volunteers under very carefully controlled clinical conditions.

For this study, researchers used a Covid-19 CHIM to measure what kind of immune responses stop people who have been previously infected and/or vaccinated from being infected again.

The data from this COVCHIM01 study showed durable immunity post-infection/vaccination against the original Covid-19 virus. The study compared the immune responses of volunteers who were infected in this study with those who were uninfected and found that antibodies in the lining of the nose, the route the virus enters the body, may be important in preventing mild infections.

Professor Helen McShane, Professor of Vaccinology at the Department of Paediatrics, Director of the National Institute for Health and Care Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, said: “This is a really important proof of concept study demonstrating that controlled human infection studies can be safely carried out during a pandemic and importantly provide valuable information that is difficult to obtain in traditional field studies. We hope this provides confidence in the use of human infection studies as a tool both for the development of improved Covid vaccines and therapeutics and for potential future pandemics.”

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

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