The first volunteer in a U.K. trial has received an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by researchers at Imperial College London.
On its website, Imperial College explained that the healthy volunteer, who wishes to remain anonymous, received the vaccine at a medical facility in West London.
Imperial College says that the trials are the first test of a new self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) vaccine technology. RNA is ribonucleic acid, or genetic material and saRNA is being touted as a way to revolutionize vaccine development.
The Imperial College vaccine uses synthetic strands of genetic code based on the virus. Once injected into the muscle, the body’s own cells are instructed to make copies of a spiky protein on the coronavirus. That should in turn trigger an immune response so the body can fight off any future COVID-19 infection.
The trial has received more than $51 million in funding from the U.K. government.
Some 15 healthy volunteers are in the initial stage of the trial, according to Imperial College. The trial starts with a low dose and increases to higher doses for subsequent volunteers.
Imperial College says that, over the coming weeks, 300 healthy participants are expected to receive two doses of the vaccine. If the vaccine is safe and shows a promising immune response in humans, larger trials will be planned for later this year, according to researchers.
Other vaccine trials using different technologies are also underway.
Oxford University recently began an advanced study involving 10,000 volunteers, and the U.S. is preparing for even larger studies in July that involve 30,000 people each testing different candidates, including Oxford’s and one made by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna.
With at least 308,000 diagnosed cases, and at least 43,165 deaths, the U.K. has been one of the worst affected countries in the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Thursday morning, more than 9.4 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, with over 2.3 million in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins. The disease has accounted for at least 483,247 deaths around the world, including at least 121,979 in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers