None of the 50 Belgian participants in a study on a coronavirus vaccine showed any “serious or unexpected” side effects after tests conducted by German company CureVac.
The Belgian part of the CureVac study, which ran in collaboration with Ghent’s university hospital, began in mid-June. All 50 Belgians have since received a first dose of the candidate vaccine. “So far, our impressions are really good,” said Professor Geert Leroux-Roels. “Different dosages have been administered and, overall, the product is safe.”
A small group of participants reported mild complaints such as fatigue, fever or headaches. The researchers believe that these discomforts may be a sign of an immune system reaction. However, these symptoms reportedly disappear after 24 hours.
While these results are encouraging, research to develop an effective vaccine is not yet complete. “If all goes well, CureVac will report its first results in September,” said Leroux-Roels.
CureVac’s vaccine candidate has attracted a lot of attention in recent months, including from the United States. In March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had accused the US administration of wanting to acquire the product from the German laboratory in order to make it available only to its own citizens.
The European Commission then stepped in, offering financial support of 80 million euros to CureVac in the form of a guarantee for a European Investment Bank loan under the Infectious Disease Research component of InnovFin (Horizon 2020).
Another vaccine candidate considered promising is also being tested in Ghent. The first doses of the Johnson & Johnson product have been administered, confirmed Professor Geert Leroux-Roels.
So far, the study has not revealed any problems among the young population taking part, but there is a lack of volunteers between 65 and 75 years old. The researchers pointed out that the clinical trials take place in a safe and controlled environment and called for candidates within a radius of 20 kilometres around UZ Gent.