Professor Sarah Gilbert, who runs the Oxford trials for their coronavirus vaccine candidate, claims their jab could provide protection that lasts for several years.
Additionally, she says their experimental vaccine has been found to generate antibody levels of up to three times more than those patients who recovered from COVID-19.
Concerns had been raised lately after patients with other types of coronavirus were able to be reinfected within a year. Such coronaviruses were found to be less dangerous and would usually cause the common cold.
However, Professor Gilbert told the Commons Science and Technology Committee that there might be a better result from a vaccine than the natural immunity obtained when individuals recover from a virus.
She explains that vaccines have a different way of interacting with the immune system. Her team follows people in their studies utilizing the same type of technology to make the vaccines for several years. Moreover, she says they still see strong immune responses.
Gilbert says they are optimistic based on earlier studies. She says that they are hopeful of seeing a reasonable duration of immunity and probably even better than naturally-acquired protection.
The Oxford Coronavirus Vaccine
About 8,000 Britons are enrolled in the Oxford vaccine trial being manufactured by AstraZeneca. However, as the rates of infection in the country has gone down, the researchers are looking at involving 4,000 Brazilians and 2,000 South Africans in their study.
The vaccine comes as an experimental coronavirus jab being tested by Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech. Furthermore, it was found to produce neutralizing antibodies that were between 1.8 and 2.8 times greater than those seen in recovered coronavirus patients.
Oxford's vaccine uses part of the pathogen's genetic code to get the body to identify and recognize the coronavirus. The jab is also designed to attack the virus if a person becomes infected with it.
The trial of 45 people was divided into three groups and a control group. Moreover, it gave off promising early results, which many look forward to. Philip Dormitzer, the chief scientific officer at Pfizer's research laboratories, told STAT News that they still have a long way to go before the vaccine can fully take off.
However, at this point, he says that there is a viable vaccine candidate based on early tolerability safety data and immunogenicity.
Is a Second Infection From COVID-19 Possible?
Currently, there is still no certainty that a previous infection from the coronavirus warrants protection from a second one. The World Health Organization says that there is currently no evidence showing that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are indeed protected from a second infection.
Similarly, the key question in the current Oxford trials is whether the vaccine will protect individuals from becoming infected or simply make them less ill. Researchers are also working out how it may also work less well in older people due to their weaker immune systems.
The head of the UK's Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, told MPs she was less optimistic that the jab could protect against catching the infection. She said it is more likely only to reduce the severity of symptoms.
She told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that she's relatively optimistic that a vaccine capable of treating the population will soon be available.
A regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, Sir John Bell, also gave the committee evidence. He cautioned that the UK must "prepare for the worst" this winter, instead of relying on the development of a vaccine.
He also mentioned seeing coronavirus tests of good standards, saying it produced results within a few minutes. He believes those kinds of tests would be transformative as it would allow easy determination of the infection. He also urged Britons to get the flu jab to 'avoid pandemonium in A&E departments.'