A volunteer, who asked to remain anonymous, was verified as healthy and became the first to receive Imperial College London's unreleased vaccine for COVID-19. This is the first COVID-19 vaccine to use Dr. Robert Shattock's RNA-amplifying technique for inducing immunity against the virus.
"We are now poised to test the vaccine in the dose evaluation phase before moving forward to evaluating it in larger numbers." said Dr Katrina Pollock of the institution's Department of Infectious Disease and the Chief Investigator of the study, ""We have reached a significant milestone in this ground-breaking study with the first dose of a self-amplifying RNA vaccine delivered safely....It is a privilege to be part of this important work and the team are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm and support from our volunteers, without whom clinical research would not be possible. It is a tribute to science and the widespread desire to assist the COVID-19 vaccine programme that thousands are signing up to be a part of these vaccine studies. I look forward to providing more updates on our progress as we gather more data."
The individual recipient of the vaccine will also receive a second booster in about four weeks. This will be followed by several additional human subjects within the week. In total, 300 subjects will receive two doses of the vaccine with larger trials slated for later this year.
The lead scientist, Robert Shattock, pioneered the technology of self-amplifying RNA which allows the development to outpace others at a lower cost. The College hopes to make this vaccine available to the UK as well as low-income countries.
According to a news article from the College, “For COVID-19, the technology is used to deliver genetic instructions to muscle cells to make the ‘spike’ protein found on the surface of the coronavirus. This evokes an immune response in the host to produce immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” Shattock was able to source genetic code from the virus from China and complete initial trials in early January.
According to the article, "For the UK and low-income countries abroad, Imperial and VGH will waive royalties and charge only modest cost-plus prices to sustain the enterprise’s work, accelerate global distribution and support new research."
"The social enterprise’s mission is to rapidly develop vaccines to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and distribute them as widely as possible in the UK and overseas, including to low- and middle-income countries."
Following trials, the College expects to deliver vaccines to the public starting with UK residents by early 2021.
Image credit: Confocal imaging in the section of Cell Biology and Functional Genomics, Imperial College https://asset-library.imperial.ac.uk/assetbank-imperial/images/assetbox/8e23fee3-237e-4c33-bd7c-aabf4f7f8ba2/asset199948.html