A STUDY of the Oxford University vaccine on pigs has shown that two doses are better than one.

The study of the vaccine is currently undergoing human trials and it is hoped that it will be ready for later this year.

Previous research shows that macaques, a type of monkey, were protected against lung disease after a single immunisation.

Now new research, by Pirbright Institute, has shown that two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine might produce a greater immune response in pigs.

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In the study, researchers saw a marked increase in antibodies, which bind to the virus in a way that blocks infection.

It is not yet known what level of immune response will be required to protect humans against Covid-19 or how long people who have tested positive will be immune for.

Researchers said the finding in pigs is important because it suggests that two doses of the new vaccine could potentially give significantly more protection in humans than one single dose.

Pigs have been tested on for human flu-jabs in the past because of the similar respiratory set-up to ours.

But scientists said further research in humans is required.

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Professor Bryan Charleston, director of the Pirbright Institute, said: “These results look encouraging that administering two injections with the same vaccine boosts antibody responses that can neutralise the virus, but it is the response in humans that is important.

“The pig has proved to be a valuable model for testing human vaccines for other diseases to give an indication of the type of immune response induced and testing different doses.

“Pigs are more physiologically similar to humans than some other animal models - for example, their body weight and metabolic rate – and are more accessible than studies using non-human primates.”

In the research, the pigs were split into two groups, with both receiving an initial dose of the vaccine, and one group receiving an identical booster immunisation on day 28 of the study.

Professor Simon Graham, the lead author of the study, said: “While it remains to be determined what immune responses are required to effectively protect people against Covid-19, the demonstration that [the vaccine] induces both neutralising antibody and T cell responses is very encouraging.”

A Cambridge-based drugs company, Astra Zeneca, has already taken on the challenge of making and distributing the vaccine around the world when the time comes.

As it is, the trial is currently in the third phase.

This means that the clinical trials at hospitals across the country are fully underway and 1,112 participants have been voluntarily injected with the vaccine, or a placebo that fights against meningitis. Each volunteer will have regular check-ins.