Covid jab could prevent deadly Nipah virus that kills 75% of cases

Scientists believe the coronavirus vaccine could help prevent the deadly Nipah virus.

The University of Oxford experts are trying to work out if technology used for the Covid vaccine could make the first innoculation for the deadline Nipah. The Daily Star reports people have already started receiving the jab.

It makes the beginning of a human trial for a possible Nipah vaccine. Work on a Nipah vaccine began in 2017 but was paused during the pandemic.

The virus, mostly found in South Asia, proves fatal in around 75% of cases and can be transmitted from animals such as bats or pigs as well as contaminated food or from human to human.

In humans, it can cause severe respiratory infection and fatal brain swelling, and was first identified 25 years ago, but there are currently no treatments or vaccines available. However, the new vaccine, currently known as ChAdOx1 NipahB, could be the first if it meets safety and efficacy standards.

The Oxford Vaccine Group has so far recruited 51 people aged between 18 and 55 who will participate in the trial. The jab was created using the same “viral vector” vaccine technology as the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.

It is hoped the project will last for 18 months. More trials are also set to take place in countries impacted by the Nipah virus.

Dame Sarah Gilbert, the main researcher at the University of Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute, said: “Our work developing the Covid-19 vaccine will now help us prepare this Nipah vaccine for licensure, ensuring we’re ready to prevent future outbreaks of this devastating disease from spreading.”

Professor Brian Angus, the trial’s main researcher and professor in infectious diseases at Oxford, said: “Nipah virus was first identified in 1998, and yet 25 years on the global health community still has no approved vaccines or treatments for this devastating disease. Due to the high mortality rate and the nature of Nipah virus transmission, the disease is identified as a priority pandemic pathogen.

“This vaccine trial is an important milestone in identifying a solution that could prevent local outbreaks occurring, while also helping the world prepare for a future global pandemic.”

Symptoms of Nipah include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Cough and sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Altered consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory distress

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