Belgian company Janssen has designed a COVID-19 vaccine around a genetically modified version of the common cold. Launching on Monday, this is the third major trial of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom.
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The common cold virus is genetically modified to look more like coronavirus on a molecular level but also making it harmless. This will then, in theory, train the human immune system to fight against COVID-19.
Janssen has its own trial of the vaccine running, wherein its volunteers get one dose. This second trial is to test whether two doses of the vaccine will lead to longer-lasting immunity.
Last week, results from another vaccine trial showed that the jab was giving 90% protection to those who it was trialled on.
This new trial has been launched as it is thought many versions of the vaccine will be needed to bring the pandemic to an end.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines have not yet been approved by authorities to be used or deployed to the public. It is, therefore, unknown how well the vaccine works or how long immunity lasts.
Although the announcement of this vaccine has caused great excitement around the world, the search for other vaccines will continue. Different approaches may be better or more efficient. Also, different vaccines may be better suited to the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
It would also be near impossible for a single company to produce a vaccine for everyone on the planet.
Chairwoman of the UK's Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, told the BBC, "Many vaccines are needed both here in the UK, and globally, to ensure we can provide a safe and effective vaccine for the whole population."
Director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, Professor Saul Faust, will run the latest vaccine trial. He told the BBC that “it is really important we pursue many different vaccines from many different manufactures.”
"We just don't know how each of these vaccines is going to behave and we can't be certain vaccine supply will be efficient and secure from one manufacturer."
The recruitment process has begun, with participation in the trial now open to 6,000 people in the UK. Other countries will also be called upon to join in on the process, which will take the total number of people needed to 30,000.
As part of the trial, half the volunteers will be administered two doses. These will be issued to them two months apart.
The results of the vaccine trial may not be known for six to nine months.