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Coronavirus, the experimental English-Italian vaccine starts today

By Chiara Rambaldi

The day has finally arrived. 500 people from London, Bristol and Southampton today will undergo the first tests to assess the new experimental vaccine against Covid-19. It was developed thanks to the collaboration to the Pomezia laboratory (Rome) and Oxford scientists.

"It is the best way to defeat the coronavirus," said British Health Minister Matt Hancock who recently in London announced "every possible effort" by the government to support the research and development for a Coronavirus vaccine.

There is optimism that the vaccine will work. So much that some scientists from the University of Oxford already speak of 80% chance of success and the Jenner Institute of the same university, that is the department that deals with vaccines, has already said ok to the production of one million doses that will be ready in September.

Hancock claims, "The important thing is to have the possibility", [if the vaccine works] "to immunize as many people as possible in the shortest possible time".

It is the first time that a potential Covid-19 vaccine has been tested on humans in Europe, as has been happening in China and the United States for a few weeks, approximately seventy pharmaceutical companies are under development. Oxford and the Pomezia laboratory looked around for 500 volunteers in the areas of London, Bristol and Southampton, healthy individuals aged between 18 and 55, to test them, up to £625 will be paid. Then, they will be followed for months based to their reactions.

The potential vaccine developed by British and Italian scientists is called "ChAdOx1 nCoV-19" and derives from adenovirus, a mild virus typical of chimpanzees, but genetically modified so as to carry part of the coronavirus with it and, once introduced into the human being, to develop - hopefully - a preventive immune response in the body so that it recognizes Covid-19 and defeat it.

Simply put, Coronavirus is "coated" with "pointed" proteins -spikes-, which are essential in penetrating and infecting human cells. The "ChAdOx1 nCoV-19" vaccine would only incorporate this external part of Covid-19, without the rest of the virus, so that once the vaccine has been introduced into the body, the latter learns to recognize the "spike" proteins and therefore to defend itself in advance thanks to an immune reaction that prevents the "sharp" proteins of the virus from entering in action.

The CEO of the Pomezia Advent-Irbm laboratory, Piero Di Lorenzo, had explained that the vaccine "was decided to go directly to the clinical trial phase on humans in England, believing, by Irbm and the Oxford University, sufficiently tested the non-toxicity and efficacy of the vaccine on the basis of laboratory results, which have been particularly effective ". "Once the human test phase is over," Matteo Liguori, managing director of IRBM, explained, "we will start with a vaccination campaign on people most exposed to risk, such as health workers and police forces”.

Hopefully, the best is yet to come.

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