Human trials of virus vaccine begin in UK (Bigstock)
Trials of a vaccine that could protect against COVID-19 are to begin in the UK.
Work on the vaccine, developed by clinical teams at the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, began in January.
Now a study involving up to 510 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55 is to get under way.
The UK now joins only the US, with two studies, and China in beginning human trials.
Professor Saul Faust, director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton, said: "There are not currently any licensed vaccines or specific treatments for COVID-19 but vaccines are the most effective way of controlling outbreaks and the international community has stepped up efforts towards developing one.
"This vaccine aims to turn the virus' most potent weapon, its spikes, against it - raising antibodies that stick to them allowing the immune system to lock on to and destroy the virus."
It is called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) from chimpanzees that has been genetically changed so it is impossible for it to grow in humans.
This has been combined with genes that make proteins from the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) called spike glycoprotein, which play an essential role in the infection pathway of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
About 187 of the study participants are to be recruited in Southampton.
The study is taking place in Oxford and Southampton, with three further sites likely to be added.
Half of the volunteers in the study will receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the other half will be given a licensed "control" vaccine against meningitis and sepsis (the conjugate MenACWY vaccine).
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