“Oxford vaccine causes double defence against COVID-19” was the overnight breaking news in the Telegraph. This could be the beginning of the end for COVID-19.
Rather unusually there has been an unofficial leak from a “senior source” concerning the initial results of the Oxford Vaccine study.
Astra-Zeneca shares have soared even though they are in a non-profit arrangement with Oxford University over this vaccine. Of course I am not in a position to confirm or deny this leak. But it would not surprise me if we hear that it is indeed true.
I believe that there is a gracious God controlling the universe and time after time in human history God has stretched out his arm and said “enough” as some disaster natural or man made threatens the very survival of the human species. The World will end when He decides not some virus. As a Christian I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hold onto a hope that things will not be as bad as they could be. Though having said that I am an advocate of doing everything we can in our own power to keep safe also. So just like I wear a seat belt I wear a mask. And I am quite sure that the COVID-19 vaccine is NOT the mark of the beast and there will be no chips inserted under our skin at the same time! I really wish Christians wouldn’t spread conspiracy theory nonsense. There’s another name for it: foolish lies that can cost lives.
The breaking news all comes hot on the heals of a report that the Moderna vaccine also produces antibodies in humans. The Morderna vaccine is an RNA vaccine. The Oxford one simply envelopes RNA in a non-replicating cold virus, protecting it and delivering it direct to human cells. If the Moderna vaccine works, then you could reasonably expect the Oxford vaccine might perhaps be at least as good.
What the Telegraph is reporting is that the Oxford vaccine has been shown to produce not just antibodies but a T-cell based immune response. This is crucial because T cells are critical in our response to viruses, and also play a part in immune memory. There has been concerns, which I will outline below, about whether or not antibody levels would remain high after either an infection or an immunisation. If T-cells are also being affected by the vaccine then this might indicate the possibility that the vaccine could have a long term protective effect.
The hope is still that, if data permits, we may be able to vaccinate millions from September when the huge numbers of doses being produced “at risk” will be ready. We just need enough people in the control arm to catch coronavirus to demonstrate the vaccine works. The reduced rate in the UK may delay those final results so it’s just as well trials are going on in higher risk areas including the USA and Brazil.
We do not yet know whether this vaccine actually protects humans from COVID-19 infection or reduces the severity of an infection if it occurs. I have written a longer article explaining the scientific context simply and you are welcome to have a look. I believe it should give us hope.