Pictures show how Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arms cells against Covid

Researchers used thousands of photos to inform the artist’s interpretation above (Credits: PA)

New microscopic images have shown researchers how the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine prepares cells to fight off Covid-19.

The graphics, based on thousands of microscopic photos, reveal how cells are turned into ‘little factories’, deploying the spike protein on the cell surface.

The virus that causes Covid-19 contains a large number of spikes on its surface that it uses to attach and enter human body cells.

Coated in sugars called glycans, the spikes disguise Covid-19’s genetic material so it can enter a person’s cells.

But the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca teaches the body to recognise the spike, by encapsulating the virus inside a harmless virus – a chimp adenovirus.

Researchers from Oxford and Southampton universities captured thousands of images showing ‘highly similar’ spikes to the coronavirus present on the surface of cells, which confirms the adenovirus method as a viable solution to beating coronavirus.

The vaccine teaches cells to make the spike protein so it can identify future infections (Credits: PA)

Professor Max Crispin, from the University of Southampton, said: ‘In this study we set out to see how closely the vaccine induced spikes resembled those of the infectious virus. We were really pleased to see a large amount of native-like spikes.

‘This study will hopefully provide further understanding for the public, helping them see how the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine works.

‘Many people may not realise how their cells become little factories manufacturing viral spikes that then trigger the immune response needed to fight off the disease.

‘This may also provide reassurance that the vaccine is doing its job and generating the material that we need to present to our immune systems.’

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