Oxford and AstraZeneca begin testing beta variant vaccine

The University of Oxford announced Sunday that it has begun injecting volunteers with a vaccine developed with AstraZeneca against the beta (“South African”) type of coronavirus, as part of a clinical trial to measure its effectiveness.

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It said in a statement that about 2,250 participants will be recruited in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and Poland as part of the second and third phases of these clinical trials in humans.

The candidate vaccine uses the same so-called “viral vector” (adenovirus) technology currently used against COVID-19 worldwide.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, commented: “Testing booster doses of existing vaccines and vaccines against novel variants is important to ensure we are as well prepared as possible to stay ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, should their use prove to be necessary.”

Interim data from these clinical trials is expected later this year and will be submitted to regulators for evaluation as part of a fast-track process, the statement said.

In May, the British government began clinical trials, billed as a world first, of the immune response from a third dose of a COVID vaccine to a recall campaign in the United Kingdom, where there was an outbreak of infections due to a delta variant (“Indian”).

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