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Lords to take evidence on vaccine development and immune response to COVID-19

As part of the continuing fast-paced inquiry into the Science of COVID-19, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will tomorrow hold two back-to-back evidence sessions, covering immune response and vaccine development.

Summaries from the committee's previous COVID-19 evidence sessions are being made available here.

The committee will continue where it left off last week, hearing from further leading researchers about the level (and duration) of immunity that can be retained after infection, and how they vary between people. The committee will also hear about the challenges in vaccine development, with witnesses including the lead researchers at the Oxford and Imperial College groups developing COVID-19 vaccines, and a senior executive from the pharmaceuticals industry.
The evidence sessions will be conducted on zoom and can be followed at Parliament TV from 10am on Tuesday 23 June.

Giving evidence will be:

  • Professor Arne Akbar FMedSci, Professor of Immunology, UCL Division of Infection and Immunity, UCL; and President, British Society of Immunology
  • Professor Peter Openshaw FMedSci, Professor of Experimental Medicine, Imperial College London; and Honorary Physician, Department of Respiratory Medicine, St Mary's Hospital
  • Professor Ultan Power, Professor of Molecular Virology, Queen's University Belfast

Questions will include:

  • What are the various approaches to developing a vaccine and what strategies are being explored for COVID-19?
  • What is our current understanding about the level of immunity covered by COVID-19 infection?
  • What is our understanding of the likely duration of immunity?
  • What are the implications of our understanding of natural immunity for the development of vaccines?
  • What implications does the variability in immune response have for the efficacy of a potential vaccine?
  • What is the risk that the virus will mutate in a way which affect the efficacy of the vaccines currently in development?
  • Is there a risk of antibody-dependent enhancement with COVID-19 vaccines?


Giving evidence will be:

  • Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology, Jenner Institute and Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford
  • Dr Ian Gray, Head of Medical (UK & Ireland), Sanofi Pasteur
  • Professor Robin Shattock FMedSci, Chair in Mucosal Infection and Immunity, Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London 

Questions will include:

  • How successful have we been at developing vaccines for viruses historically?
  • How long does vaccine development usually take, and why?
  • Please outline the various types of vaccine that are currently in development for COVID-19 and explain how each stimulates an immune response?
  • What vaccine approaches have your groups undertaken? Why were those approaches chosen?
  • What type of immune response do you expect the vaccine to stimulate?
  • What route of delivery does your vaccine take and why was that route chosen?
  • How do you establish the effectiveness of a vaccine?
  • What population-level vaccination strategies are being suggested for COVID-19, and which do you think will be most effective?

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