AN OXFORD vaccine for rabies has begun human trials in Africa.

The University of Oxford and the Ifakara Health Institute announced the vaccination of the first participants in a trial testing the vaccine in Tanzania.

Rabies causes more than 1,500 deaths annually in the east African country.

Up to 192 healthy people will be randomly assigned to receive one dose of Oxford’s ChAdOx2 RabG vaccine, or one or two doses of a currently licensed rabies vaccine.

The study aims to show whether a single dose of the Oxford vaccine has the potential to induce protective immune responses comparable to existing vaccines.

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Dr Sandy Douglas, chief investigator of the trial, said: ‘Many people are unaware that rabies still kills about 50,000 people every year, mostly in Asia and Africa – it’s the only known viral infection with essentially 100 per cent fatality.

“Current rabies vaccines are effective, but they require multiple doses and they’re too expensive for broad use.

“A single-dose, low-cost vaccine would be a game changer – this trial should show us whether our new vaccine could provide that.”

One year after receiving their study vaccinations, participants will receive two doses of a currently licensed rabies vaccine.

This will offer robust protection against rabies, regardless of how well the Oxford vaccine works.

Following vaccination, participants will be monitored closely through several visits over 18 months.

Initial results from the study are expected later this year, with full results in late 2023.

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