The Oxford University vaccine tipped as a “front runner” in the race to develop a coronavirus jab does not stop the virus in monkeys and may only be partially effective, experts have warned.
A trial of the vaccine in rhesus macaque monkeys did not stop the animals from catching the virus and has raised questions about the vaccine’s likely human efficacy and ongoing development.
The vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is undergoing human trials in Britain. The Government has brokered a deal between Oxford University and the drug company AstraZeneca to produce up to 30 million doses if it proves successful, having ploughed £47 million into the research.
“All of the vaccinated monkeys treated with the Oxford vaccine became infected when challenged as judged by recovery of virus genomic RNA from nasal secretions,” said Dr William Haseltine, a former Harvard Medical School professor who had a pivotal role in the development of early HIV/Aids treatments.
“There was no difference in the amount of viral RNA detected from this site in the vaccinated monkeys as compared to the unvaccinated animals. Which is to say, all vaccinated animals were infected,” Dr Haseltine wrote in an article on Forbes.