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UPDATE 1-Study finds AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions

Thu, 22nd Oct 2020 12:04

(Adds details, background, quotes)

LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca's Oxford
COVID-19 vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions
programmed into it by its developers to successfully provoke a
strong immune response, according to a detailed analysis carried
out by independent UK scientists.

"The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is
only good news in our fight against the illness," said David
Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, who led
the research.

AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford
University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to
produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

The first data from late-stage large-scale clinical trials
being conducted in several countries around the world, including
Brazil, the United States and Britain, are expected to be
released before the end of the year.

The vaccine - known either as ChAdOx1 or AZD1222 - is made
by taking a common cold virus called an adenovirus from
chimpanzees and deleting about 20% of the virus’s instructions.
This means it is impossible for the vaccine to replicate or
cause disease in humans.

The Bristol researchers’ focus was to assess how often and
how accurately the vaccine is copying and using the genetic
instructions programmed into it by its designers. These
instructions detail how to make the spike protein from the
coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

Once the spike protein is made, the immune system reacts to
it, training the immune system to identify a real COVID-19
infection.

"This is an important study as we are able to confirm that
the genetic instructions underpinning this vaccine ... are
correctly followed when they get into a human cell," Matthews
said in a statement about the work.

His team's research was not peer reviewed by other
scientists, but was published as a preprint before review.
(Reporting by Sarah Young and Kate Kelland, editing by Alistair
Smout)

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