An experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University in collaboration with AstraZenecaPLC (LON:AZN) has proved safe with some signs of efficacy in its first human trial.

More than 1,000 people took part in the phase I/II study, with signs that the vaccines boosted both antibodies and cells to fight the virus.

The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, called AZD1222, ahead of today’s trial results, which were published in The Lancet.

According to Oxford University, the vaccine provoked a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination (white blood cells that can attack cells infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus), and an antibody response within 28 days (antibodies are able to neutralise the virus to stop cell infection).

“We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period,” said Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial.

“However, we need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection, and for how long any protection lasts,” he said, adding that the strongest response was in the 10 participants who received two doses of the vaccine,

AstraZeneca is one of a number of big pharma companies working on a vaccine for COVID-19.

Earlier today and Pfizer and BioNtech also released encouraging results from a phase I/II trial of a vaccine they are working on jointly.

Data from the German part of the trial I indicated the vaccine (BNT162b1) elicited strong immune (T cell) and antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2, the current strain of the pandemic.

“It is encouraging that the data on BNT162b1 from the German study cohort are very much in line with what we have seen in the U.S. study cohort, said Özlem Türeci, CMO and Co-founder of BioNTech. 

“The preliminary data indicate that our mRNA-based vaccine was able to stimulate antibody as well as T-cell responses at remarkably low dose levels.

“We believe both may play an important role in achieving effective clearance of a pathogen such as SARS-CoV-2.”

The UK government today ordered 30mln doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in addition to the 100mln from AstraZeneca/Oxford University.

AstraZeneca shares rose 1% to 9,280p.