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Next phase of coronavirus vaccine trials to begin in Bristol

The next phase of a coronavirus vaccine trial will start in Bristol tomorrow (23 May).

It's all part of the scheme developed by the University of Oxford.

Starting on Saturday 23 May hundreds of volunteers from Bristol will be given a vaccine to see how it protects against the virus.

It will be run by researchers at the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and the University of Bristol, involving healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55.

It's said up to 500 people will be recruited to take part.

Dr Rajeka Lazarus, a consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at UHBW and one of the principle investigators for the study in Bristol, said: “Currently there are no licensed vaccines or specific treatments for COVID-19."

"However, 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 onto and destroy the virus."

Work on the vaccine, developed by clinical research teams at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, began in January.

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 that it is impossible for it to grow in humans.

This has been combined with a gene that makes a protein from the COVID-19 virus called spike glycoprotein so that in theory, the vaccine sparks the same creation of antibodies that the real virus would. 

The first phase of the trial took place in April.

Adam Finn, who is also a principle investigator for the study in Bristol as well as honorary consultant at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and director of the Bristol Children's Vaccine Centre at Bristol Medical School, said: “We are delighted to be supporting our colleagues in Oxford by collaborating on this extremely important study."

"This study will help us to assess whether healthy people can be protected from COVID-19 with this new vaccine and it will also give us valuable information on its safety and ability to generate good immune responses against the virus."

It's said those taking part in the trial will play a "crucial role" in the global search for a vaccine that protects us all.

For more information about the study and how to sign-up visit the vaccine trial website at https://covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/participate-bristol

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