Vaccine

Oxford Starts Human Testing of Nipah Virus Vaccine

Published March. 18. 2024

The University of Oxford has taken a significant step in the fight against the deadly Nipah virus by initiating human testing of an experimental vaccine. This virus, which causes brain swelling and has led to outbreaks in various parts of Asia, including India’s Kerala state, has been a major concern for global health authorities.

The Nipah Virus: A Lethal Threat

Nipah virus was first identified approximately 25 years ago in Malaysia and has since caused outbreaks in countries like Bangladesh, India, and Singapore. It is transmitted primarily by fruit bats and can also spread from person to person. The infection presents with symptoms such as fever, headache, cough, and difficulty breathing, often followed by brain swelling. Its fatality rate is estimated to be between 40% and 75%.

Despite its epidemic potential, there is currently no approved vaccine or specific treatment for Nipah virus. Researchers worldwide have been racing to develop preventive measures to protect against this deadly pathogen.

The ChAdOx1 NipahB Vaccine

The vaccine being tested by the University of Oxford is called ChAdOx1 NipahB. Here are the key details:

  • Trial Participants: The first participants in the early-stage trial received doses of the vaccine over the last week. The trial will involve people aged 18 to 55 years.
  • Technology: The ChAdOx1 NipahB vaccine is based on the same technology used in the AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India’s COVID-19 shots.
  • Safety and Immune Response: The trial aims to examine the safety and immune response of the vaccine.
  • Global Collaboration: The trial is led by the Oxford Vaccine Group and funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global coalition supporting vaccine development against emerging infectious diseases.

A Step Forward in Nipah Preparedness

Dr. In-Kyu Yoon, an executive at CEPI, emphasized the importance of this trial: “Nipah has epidemic potential, with its fruit bat hosts found in areas home to over two billion people. This trial is a step forward in efforts to build a suite of tools to protect against this killer virus.”

The University of Oxford’s vaccine trial is not the only one in progress. Moderna also initiated an early-stage clinical trial for a Nipah virus vaccine in collaboration with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

As the world grapples with emerging infectious diseases, these research efforts are crucial. The hope is that successful vaccine development will provide a shield against Nipah virus outbreaks and save lives.

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Sources:

  1. Reuters: Oxford starts human testing of Nipah virus vaccine
  2. University of Oxford News: First-in-human vaccine trial for deadly Nipah virus launched

 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

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