Coronavirus breakthroughs in vaccine development, inhaler therapy reported

Coronavirus breakthroughs in vaccine development and an inhaler therapy were separately reported Monday as the United States continues to see record-breaking spikes in cases of the deadly disease.

A coronavirus vaccine created by scientists at the University of Oxford in England triggered strong immune responses and neutralizing antibodies, according to a study published Monday.

“It’s a really important milestone to put into the public domain our findings on the safety and immune responses to this vaccine in the first group of people that we vaccinated,” said Sarah Gilbert, University of Oxford professor and project lead on the study.

The vaccine provoked an immune response within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days, according to the study.

The participants had levels of neutralizing antibodies, which have been suggested by researchers as important for protection against the virus.

Those responses were strongest after a booster shot, with 100% of participants’ blood having neutralizing activity against the coronavirus.

“Vaccines are absolutely the way out of the pandemic and this is a really important moment because it shows that we can make the robust immune responses which we hope will relate to protection in the future, ” said Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the University of Oxford study.

During the trial, more than 1,000 healthy adult volunteers got the vaccine and no serious health impacts were reported.

The University of Oxford is working with the United Kingdom-based global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the further development, large-scale manufacture and potential distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a separate announcement out of the UK, an inhaled formulation of an anti-inflammatory therapy used in COVID-19 patients was shown to lower the risk of developing a severe case of the disease, according to an announcement from the company Synairgen, which makes the treatment.

Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen said in a statement, “We are all delighted with the trial results announced today, which showed that SNG001 greatly reduced the number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients who progressed from ‘requiring oxygen’ to ‘requiring ventilation.’ ”

Patients that received the formulation of inhaled interferon beta in a trial had a 79% lower risk of developing severe disease and were more than twice as likely to recover from the coronavirus than the placebo group, according to results presented Monday.

Marsden said patients who got the SNG001 treatment could resume everyday activities and reported reduced breathlessness.

“This assessment of SNG001 in COVID-19 patients could signal a major breakthrough in the treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients,” said Marsden.

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