In a new study, researchers found a vaccine based on cutting-edge RNA gene technology showed promising potency against the new coronavirus in an early trial.
The vaccine candidate—for now just called BNT162b1—”elicited a robust immune response in participants, which increased with the dose level and with a second dose.
The research was conducted by a team at Pfizer.
According to the team, BNT162b1 is based on a bit of genetic code known as messenger RNA, which helps kick-start the body’s immune response when it encounters the new coronavirus.
Vaccine development strategies focused on RNA are generally considered safe and have facilitated the rapid development of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.
The new trial involved 45 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55. Half were randomly selected to get the vaccine at a low, medium, or high dose, while the other half got a “dummy” placebo shot.
The team found the vaccine elicited a robust immune response in participants, and the higher the dose, the stronger the response. Getting a second “booster” shot also upped the immune system response.
In fact, in participants who got the vaccine, levels of coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies were 1.9 to 4.6 times higher than those in patients recovering from SARS-CoV-2.
Still, the team stressed that phase 3 trials—where the vaccine is tested in a much larger population—are needed to confirm the safety, strength, and duration of any protective effect.
The team also reported that the shot was generally well-tolerated, although some recipients did have some transitory side effects such as soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, fever and sleep woes.
Those tended to clear up within a week of vaccination.
One author of the study is Dr. Judith Absalon from drug giant Pfizer Inc.
The study is published in Nature.
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