A potential vaccine manufactured at Oxford University and then shipped to an Italian lab for production has turned into the West's best — and perhaps only — chance for a coronavirus vaccine by year's end, The Washington Post reported.
The "seed stock" from Oxford was shipped to a lab south of Rome in March to turn a few droplets into an amount large enough for 13,000 people — a sufficient quantity to perform large-scale trials unfolding on several continents.
"We could really feel the pressure," Francesco Calvaruso, the production manager of Advent, told the Post about the trial vaccine known as AZD1222.
It is still unproved, but is is further along in the trial process than the others, the Post reported, and European countries are lining up behind the Oxford University project, saying the early signals give grounds for optimism.
Last week, Italy, Germany, France, and the Netherlands struck a deal for 400 million doses of the experimental Oxford vaccine, which, if approved by regulators, would be produced by the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, the Post reported.
The company has also reached similar deals with Britain and the United States, where the Trump administration has supplied $1.2 billion in funding.
According to the World Health Organization, just 11 candidate vaccines have reached the stage of clinical testing, the Post reported. The WHO says only Oxford University's vaccine has reached what is known as Phase III, the final and largest-scale trial.
But the vaccine is far from a sure thing, according to experts.
"The expectation is that we will have a protective vaccine, probably more than one," Antonio Cassone, the former head of the infectious-disease department at Italy's national health institute, told the Post. "But nobody will know at that time how long the protection will last. We don't know the antibody duration. This will be yet another jump into the unknown."
There are several kinds of vaccines, and the one developed by Oxford uses a tweaked version of a virus found in chimpanzees — something, if injected into a human body, is supposed to trigger an immune response. The chimpanzee virus is loaded with a synthesized reproduction of the coronavirus' most important weapon, the so-called spike protein that it uses as a harpoon for human cells.
The goal, Di Marco said, "is for the body to think, 'O.K, this is the real virus.'"
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