A Chinese state-owned enterprise, Sinopharm, published results in the Lancet that suggest the jab they developed is safe and can produce an immune response.
600 healthy adults were given Sinopharm’s jab, dubbed BBIBP, and none suffered an adverse reaction. Every volunteer given a double-dose of Sinopharm’s vaccine made antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
It was an inactivated vaccine, meaning it contains the virus but it has been grown in a laboratory and then killed, so it is not infectious.
Inactivated vaccines are well known and have been used against diseases such as influenza, measles and rabies. But they usually don’t provide immunity that’s as strong as live vaccines, so several doses over time may be necessary.
Adults over the age of 60 took a longer time to mount immunity, according to the results of the study, carried out by Beijing Institute of Biological Products.
But all volunteers had antibodies — proteins of the immune system which fight infection — seven weeks after injection compared with four in those under 60 years old.
This is not unusual because the immune system slows with ageing, meaning it takes longer for older people to respond to a vaccine or illness. It is also seen for influenza vaccines.
However, the paper also noted that it’s results do not mean we are in the clear yet because there is still must to be learned about protective immunity induced by vaccines and the maintenance of immunity against this virus.
In theory, this vaccine would protect the patient from catching the virus again in the future, or at least protect them from developing a severe bout of the disease. But this has not been proven by the scientists yet — they only injected fewer than 1,000 participants.
Oxford University’s experimental jab is considered the front-runner but Downing St has also bought supplies of 340million different vaccines, in a spread-betting approach to ensure the UK doesn’t miss out on any scientific breakthrough.