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For the first time, a COVID-19 vaccine trial has confirmed the body produces antibodies against the virus
As more than a hundred teams around the world work to produce a viable vaccine to fight against the new coronavirus, one trial that has gone through the peer-review process has confirmed that recipients of the vaccine produced antibodies against the virus. This is extremely significant as many other trials that show promise have not yet gone through peer-review and others are showing promise in animals but have not yet moved to human testing.
For those unfamiliar with the term, the process of peer-review is taking an academic piece of writing, and subjecting it to scrutiny from other experts within the same field. They assess the accuracy of conclusions drawn from the research, whether or not any mistakes have been made which may provide false results, any biases that the author may have and other factors to determine whether or not the paper is acceptable for publication. Reviewers are also impartial in an attempt to prevent biased papers from being published, with potentially misleading information.
This paper, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reports that 45 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55 all received two vaccinations 28 days apart. The group was split into three streams, each receiving a different dose, and all participants produced antibodies. Lead author, Dr. Lisa Jackson, reported that two doses were required, the first sets up the body’s immune system, and the second causes it to respond more aggressively. This two-dose approach was expected for this type of vaccine.
As with any form of medication, side effects are expected. During the trials, the side effects included, “Fever, chills, headache, myalgia, and pain at the injection site,” however, none of these symptoms were long-lasting. The side effects increased with the size of the dose, but the antibody response was also greater. Therefore, researchers must find the balance between the immune response to fighting the infection and the severity of the side effects of the vaccine.
Currently, there are still major unknowns about the vaccine; how effective are the antibodies at fighting the virus, how long do the benefits of the vaccine last, and whether or not the older population will benefit from the vaccine. Despite these unknowns, the findings from this study are a positive step in our fight against COVID-19.