A study in monkeys suggests that a blood test could predict the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine and perhaps accelerate the clinical trials needed to effectively deliver it to billions of people around the world.
The study, published Friday in the scientific journal Nature, reveals blood markers that predict whether a monkey’s immune system is ready to kill incoming coronaviruses.
If the markers are strong enough, they could reveal whether the vaccines protect against COVID-19. This raises hope that researchers can look for the same markers in people who receive vaccines in clinical trials.
“It will pave the way for much faster advancement in the COVID-19 vaccine field,” said Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston vaccine expert Dan Barouch, who is one of the researchers behind the new study.
Barouch explained that the new monkey study offers a glimmer of hope for next-generation vaccines, suggesting they could be tested not against older vaccines, but using a measure known as a “correlate of protection.”
A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration said basing clinical trials on protective correlates, if they turn out to exist, “could possibly be considered in the future.”