GENEVA

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday welcomed developments in COVID-19 vaccine trials, singling out an Oxford University group while noting that the next move will have to be larger-scale real-world trials.

“It is good news. I mean, effectively, we have 23 COVID-19 candidate vaccines in clinical development. As of today, we had one candidate vaccine for which phase one clinical data was available,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program.

He spoke at a WHO press webinar and commented on global vaccine developments following The Lancet medical journal, reporting that Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine is safe and produces a positive immune reaction.

The early-stage human trials involved around 1,077 people with the results showing that the participants produced antibodies and white blood cells that can fight the virus.

Ryan said there are so far three vaccines in clinical development “in peer-reviewed journals” and another Pfizer product, for which the data is available on pre-publication.

“So, it is great to see the data coming through into peer-reviewed journals.

“We do welcome the study and congratulate our colleagues at the Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford vaccine group, and our colleagues AstraZeneca for getting this data out there.”

Ryan also said the vaccine mentioned in The Lancet did generate a neutralizing antibody in participants.

“And in a very small number of participants that were given a booster dose, those responses were even greater,” he noted, and added that while it is a positive result, “there’s a long way to go.”

“These are phase one studies. We now need to move into larger-scale real-world trials.

“But it is good to see more data and more products moving into this very important phase of vaccine discovery, and we congratulate our colleagues for the progress they have made.” Ryan added.

The US-based Johns Hopkins University says there are more than 14.53 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus globally, with nearly 607,000 deaths from COVID-19 and almost 8.2 million recoveries.

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