Early trials of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine shows promise

CAPE TOWN- A vaccine against Covid-19 is urgently needed to prevent further waves, which is why scientists and researchers around the world are working on 42 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation and 151 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation.

An experimental inactivated coronavirus vaccine has appeared to be safe and triggered an immune response in more than 600 volunteers in China, according to preliminary results of the small, early-stage clinical trial.

Vaccine candidates who were 60 years and older responded more slowly to the vaccine as it took 42 days for antibodies to be detected in all of them, compared to only 28 days among the 18-to-59-year-olds.

The Beijing Institute of Biological Products developed BBIBP-CorV, which is an inactivated whole SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Inactivated vaccines are composed of dead, or inactivated, viruses and bacteria. They differ from live but attenuated vaccines. To date, two inactivated vaccine candidates have been reported to protect non-human primates against coronavirus.

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The study carried out by the Shangqiu City Liangyuan District Center for Disease Control and Prevention examined over 600 previously healthy volunteers in China, ages 18 to 80. The findings were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

Co-author of the study and professor at Beijing Institute of Biological Products Company Limited, Xiaoming Yang, said protecting the elderly was a key aim in the development of the vaccine as the age group is at greater risk of severe illness from the disease. “However, vaccines are sometimes less effective in this group because the immune system weakens with age,” he said.

“It is therefore encouraging to see that BBIBP-CorV induces antibody responses in people aged 60 and older, and we believe this justifies further investigation,” said Yang.

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