The Oxford Vaccine Group is a research group that falls under the University of Oxford's Department of Paediatrics. Like its name says, it specializes in vaccines as well as vaccine-related topics, meaning that it has become a subject of considerable interest in recent times because of the COVID-19 crisis.
1. Studies Vaccines For Both Children and Adults
Even though the Oxford Vaccine Group falls under the Department of Paediatrics, it is important to note that it is interested in vaccines for both children and adults. This presumably makes it much easier for the researchers to look into a wide range of vaccine-related issues without stepping beyond the boundaries of their mission.
2. Founded By Richard Moxon
Those who are curious should know that Richard Moxon founded the Oxford Vaccine Group in 1994. At the time, Moxon was looking into a couple of issues. One was the public health impact of Haemophilus influenzae, a bacteria that was suspected as a potential cause of influenza until the latter's viral nature was established in 1933. The other was the effectiveness of the Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine on children in the United Kingdom. Since that time, the Oxford Vaccine Group has continued to look into similar issues involving similar circumstances.
3. Multidisciplinary Group
Naturally, the Oxford Vaccine Group is a multidisciplinary group. Certainly, experts in vaccinology play a very important role in its operations. However, there is a wide range of other experts in other fields who contribute as well, with examples ranging from statisticians, immunologists, and epidemiologists to both a bioethicist and a sociologist.
4. Has Strict Guidelines On Conflicts of Interest
Of course, the Oxford Vaccine Group has strict guidelines when it comes to conflicts of interest. After all, their findings are useless unless people are willing to trust in them, meaning that they have very good reason to maintain their reputation for fair and unbiased conduct. One example of these guidelines can be seen in how the funders and sponsors of their studies are always revealed in the scientific publications related to those studies. Another example of these guidelines can be seen in how the members of the Oxford Vaccine Group are not permitted to accept gifts from vaccine manufacturers, are not permitted to serve on advisory boards for vaccine manufacturers, are not permitted to seek travel funding from vaccine manufacturers, and so on and so forth.
5. Has Studied Meningitis C Vaccine
One example of the Oxford Vaccine Group's research would be its investigation of the Meningitis C vaccine, which focused on its effectiveness in the mid term as well as the long term. For those who are unfamiliar, Meningitis C prevents a disease that starts out with fatigue, fever, and headaches before proceeding to much more dangerous symptoms such as sepsis as well as inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and the spinal cord. The study showed that the immunity provided by the Meningitis C vaccine wanes over time, thus prompting changes to the vaccination schedule.
6. Has Studied Meningitis B Vaccine
Speaking of which, the Oxford Vaccine Group studied a new Meningitis B vaccine in 2006, which resulted in its licensing in 2013. It is interesting to note that the researchers handled Phase II out of the four phases of clinical trials. In short, Phase II is when researchers look into whether a medical treatment has any efficacy or not while also looking out for side effects. About one in three medical treatments manage to make it past Phase II, thus enabling the researchers to move on to the more expensive and more time-consuming Phase III.
7. Has Studied Vaccines For Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and Ebola
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Oxford Vaccine Group has studied vaccines for other high-profile diseases in the last couple of decades. For example, it has looked into vaccines for both bird flu and swine flu, which are called thus because they are caused by influenza viruses that tend to be found in those animals respectively. Likewise, the Oxford Vaccine Group has looked into a vaccine for ebola, which caused some serious worldwide concern in 2014. Unfortunately, while that particular outbreak of ebola has been contained, it has since shown up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
8. Has Launched the Vaccine Knowledge Project
The Oxford Vaccine Group has launched the Vaccine Knowledge Project, which is meant to be an authoritative source of information about vaccines and vaccination. This is important because the spread of misinformation has caused very noticeable drops in vaccination rates in considerable chunks of the English-speaking world, thus letting measles and other preventable diseases make a return. The Vaccine Knowledge Project is meant to convince interested individuals that getting vaccinated is a much safer choice than not getting vaccinated, which isn't just beneficial for the person getting the shot but also society as a whole. After all, not everyone can actually get vaccinated due to various medical issues, meaning that they are reliant on other people getting vaccinated to protect them through herd immunity.
9. Working On a Vaccine For the Novel Coronavirus
Currently, the Oxford Vaccine Group is working on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, which is something that it shares with a number of other parties in a number of other countries. Under normal circumstances, it takes years and years for a new vaccine to get approved. However, the urgency of the situation means that everyone is speeding things up, with the result that the relevant time-frame might be measured in months instead.
10. No Guarantee That an Effective Vaccine Can Be Made
Having said that, it is important to note that there is no guarantee that an effective vaccine will be made. After all, no vaccine for other forms of the coronavirus has ever been approved for use in the United States and the United Kingdom, which would be very bad because that means that society will just have to live with it for the foreseeable future. Besides that, even if either the Oxford Vaccine Group or some other party comes up with an effective vaccine, there are still enormous logistical challenges that will have to be solved to make it available in the numbers necessary for everything to return to the previous normal.
Written by Allen Lee
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