Imperial College London in the UK has advanced its Covid-19 vaccine candidate into the next phase of the COVAC1 clinical trial following the success in the initial dose escalation phase involving 15 volunteers.

The latest phase of the study will enrol 105 participants aged 18-75 who will be given one of three doses of the vaccine candidate at a facility in west London. This first shot will be followed by a booster four weeks later.

Participants in the initial phase will also receive their second booster dose in the coming days.

The clinical team will track any potential adverse reactions, as well as test participants’ blood samples for the presence of neutralising antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19.

Imperial College London professor Robin Shattock said: “Analysing blood samples for antibodies and T-cell response will provide some indication of whether our vaccine can produce an immune response to fight the virus.

“Larger clinical trials will still be needed to tell us whether our vaccine candidate, and any other Covid-19 vaccine in development, may be successful in reducing the spread or severity of Covid-19.”

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Imperial College’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate is based on new self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) technology. It was subjected to preclinical studies and animal tests found the vaccine to be safe, with the potential to generate an effective immune response.

According to preclinical data published in Nature Communications journal, two doses of the vaccine were able to generate highly specific antibodies that could neutralise the virus in mice.

Imperial College started dosing participants in the COVAC1 trial last month.

The development and clinical trials of this Covid-19 vaccine candidate are supported by more than £40m in funding from the UK Government and additional financing in philanthropic donations.