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Vaccine trials show early promising results — but major challenges are ahead – NBCNews.com

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Two potential coronavirus vaccines have shown promising results in early trials, and while experts say it’s encouraging news, they warn that some of the biggest hurdles still lie ahead.

The early trial results for the two vaccine candidates — one developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca and the other by the Chinese company CanSino Biologics — showed that both were safe and could induce immune responses in participants. But the next phase will be critical to demonstrate that the potential vaccines can protect against infections.

“If we’re making a plane, right now we’re at the production level,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “We can say it looks like this can at least get off the ground and do so safely. But can it get me from here to Paris? That’s the question now.”

So far, vaccine development efforts have proceeded at an exceptional pace. Typically, it takes roughly a decade for a new vaccine to go through the various stages of development and testing. But the urgency of the pandemic, which has killed more than 600,000 people worldwide, means that there are already two dozen vaccine candidates in clinical trials around the world.

July 20, 202002:42

For the Oxford-AstraZeneca and CanSino vaccine candidates, the next step in testing is known as phase three of human clinical trials. It’s in this stage that scientists will be able to see whether a potential vaccine truly works to prevent coronavirus infections. While it’s not common for vaccine candidates that have delivered good results in early stages to fail in subsequent phases, it can happen, del Rio said.

“I can tell you that in the world of HIV, we’ve seen a ton of vaccines be immunogenic — they produce immune responses — and then you take them to phase three and they don’t protect you,” he said.

Still, the results have been positive so far, del Rio said.

The newly released clinical trial results showed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate triggered the production of both antibodies and T cells, which can recognize and attack virus cells. The multipronged immune response may be key, because researchers are still trying to figure out whether one is more important than the other in providing long-term protection.

“The immune system has different weapons, and normally we would spend maybe several years figuring out if the vaccine needs to be very good at inducing antibodies or if it needs to be good at inducing T cells or if you need a combination,” said Paula Cannon, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. “But right now, we don’t have the luxury of time.”

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate has already progressed to phase three clinical trials in Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Additional trials are expected to begin in other parts of the world, including the United States. The CanSino vaccine is expected to begin similar efficacy trials in Brazil.

In addition to evaluating whether the vaccines can prevent coronavirus infections, this stage of testing is designed to assess how the potential vaccine performs across more diverse populations.

The early Oxford-AstraZeneca trials included 1,077 participants, but the vaccine candidate wasn’t tested in anyone over age 55. The CanSino vaccine candidate was tested in 508 people and did include participants ages 55 and older, but more research is needed before any vaccine is deemed safe to be widely administered.

During phase three clinical trials, it’s crucial to expand and diversify the people being studied, which means including people from demographics that have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, del Rio said.

“Here in the U.S., I want to see the people most heavily affected enrolled in the studies,” he said. “We need African Americans, Hispanic and older populations enrolled. There’s no benefit if we enroll a bunch of middle-class white people who have a lower incidence of the disease.”

Scientists will also be on the lookout for dangerous side effects. In early trials, both vaccine candidates produced only minor side effects, such as fever and headaches.

Pin Wang, a professor of materials sciences and biomedical and chemical engineering at the University of Southern California, said it’s reassuring that the side effects seen so far have been manageable. And although it’s not unheard of to identify other issues later, both studies were large enough that any major side effects would likely have been seen already.

“If there are other side effects, they’re probably related to genetic background,” Wang said. “I think it’s rare with the number of people that have been tested that we’re missing something big.”

But he didn’t rule out that other surprises could be in store as the vaccine candidates undergo more detailed evaluations. Part of the problem is that while vaccine development has proceeded at a breakneck pace, researchers are still making discoveries about the coronavirus every day.

“This virus is new, and that is challenging for vaccine development,” Wang said. “We don’t have all kinds of data to give us clues. We can only learn the answer to these questions by doing more studies.”

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76 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, 3 additional deaths – Global News

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Alberta Health said Thursday that an additional 76 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the province, as well as three additional deaths.

A woman in her 80s from the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre has died, marking the 29th death at that location.

Read more:
Hinshaw urges Alberta teachers to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of school reopenings

A man in his 90s from Heimstaed Seniors Lodge in the North zone and a man in his 90s from Central zone also died. The man from the Central zone was not linked to a continuing care centre, Alberta Health said.

Alberta has now had 220 deaths related to COVID-19.






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COVID-19: Hinshaw provides update on testing in Alberta, urges teachers and staff to get tested before September


COVID-19: Hinshaw provides update on testing in Alberta, urges teachers and staff to get tested before September

The Edmonton zone continues to have more cases than any other zone in the province as the number of active cases in that city climbed slightly to 475 on Thursday.

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There were 314 active cases reported in the Calgary zone, 88 cases in the Central zone, the South zone had 52 cases and there were 104 cases reported in the North zone.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Feds offer cities $31M to adapt to pandemic realities

Three active cases weren’t assigned to a particular zone.

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There were 50 Albertans in hospital, with many of those (21) in the Edmonton zone. Of those in hospital, 12 were in intensive care.






1:22
COVID-19: Dr. Deena Hinshaw explains how to clean and store cloth masks


COVID-19: Dr. Deena Hinshaw explains how to clean and store cloth masks

To date, the province has performed 793,114 coronavirus tests and 10,713 Albertans have recovered from the virus.

The numbers reflect results reported by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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New COVID cases fall to 76 in Alberta, three in South Zone – Lethbridge News Now

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COVID-19. (Dreamstime)

By David Opinko

Aug 13, 2020 3:40 PM

LETHBRIDGE, AB – The Government of Alberta has released Thursday’s report on COVID-19, detailing the numbers over the past 24 hours.

76 new cases were confirmed across the province, bringing the total to 11,969. Of those, 1,036 cases are active while 10,713 people have recovered.

That includes just three more infections in the South Health Zone with one each in Brooks and the Counties of Newell and Forty Mile.

Active cases in the region have fallen to 52.

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Vancouver Coastal Health warns of coronavirus exposure at IVY Lounge in Trump hotel – Global News

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Health authorities have warned of new potential exposures to the coronavirus in Metro Vancouver.

Vancouver Coastal Health says people who visited IVY Lounge at the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver between 10 p.m. on Aug. 7 and 2 a.m. on Aug. 8 were potentially exposed to the virus and should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.






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Province considers stepping up COVID-19 enforcement


Province considers stepping up COVID-19 enforcement

Fraser Health warned staff at the Cactus Club Cafe on 120 Street in Delta of a possible exposure on Aug. 5 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Aug. 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Vancouver Coastal Health announced several new or expanded exposures Wednesday, including one at Levels nightclub.

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Health officials on Wednesday reported 85 new cases of the virus, two of them epi-linked — the highest since April 25.






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B.C. officials report 85 new cases of COVID-19, one additional death


B.C. officials report 85 new cases of COVID-19, one additional death

The majority of the new cases involve young people in Metro Vancouver.

More than 1,900 people are in isolation due to potential exposures.

B.C Premier John Horgan hinted Wednesday that the province could get tougher on those flouting existing regulations.

— With files from Simon Little

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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