A trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed in China has indicated that it’s safe and produces virus-specific antibodies and T cells.
However, the authors warn that the results, published in the Lancet, must be “interpreted cautiously.”
“The challenges in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to trigger these immune responses does not necessarily indicate that the vaccine will protect humans from COVID-19,” said Wei Chen of the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, who is responsible for the study.
The trial is the first human trial of a potential vaccine to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Earlier this week, Moderna reported on positive interim data from its human trial, but these results have yet to be peer-reviewed.
The Chinese phase 1 clinical trial was carried out on 108 adults who didn’t have coronavirus. The vaccine was well tolerated, with most negative reactions being classified as mild or moderate. Participants either received a low, middle or high dose of the vaccine.
After 28 days, half of those receiving the low and middle dose had neutralizing antibodies, compared with three-quarters of those in the high dose group — meaning that they blocked the infection from the virus. The majority of participants also had a rapid T cell response to the vaccine.
While the phase 1 trial didn’t have a randomized control group, a randomized phase 2 trial with 500 participants is underway. It will observe them up to six months after receiving the vaccine.
The study was funded by the National Key R&D Program of China and National Science and Technology Major Project — both government-funded projects — as well as the Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologic.