AstraZeneca, Oxford Coronavirus Vaccine Up to 90 Percent Effective

POLITICS & POLICY
A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country’s first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the coronavirus at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa, June 24, 2020. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

AstraZeneca and Oxford University said Monday that their coronavirus vaccine was up to 90 percent effective in late-stage trials and can be easily distributed as it does not require freezing.

The vaccine showed 90 percent efficacy in preventing COVID-19 when it was given as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart, and just 62 percent efficacy when two full doses were given at least a month apart, for an average of 70 percent efficacy, AstraZeneca said.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the drug’s trial and an Oxford University professor said.

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The vaccine becomes the third to show promising results in late-stage trials, including Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccines were shown to be almost 95 percent effective.

However, unlike Pfizer and Moderna, AstraZeneca’s vaccine does not need to be frozen, only refrigerated, making it a “more practical solution for use worldwide,” according to Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Oxford.

“Importantly, from what we have heard the vaccine seems to prevent infection not just disease,” Horby added “This is important as the vaccine could reduce the spread of the virus as well as protect the vulnerable from severe disease.”

The British drugmaker said it will have 200 million doses ready by the end of 2020, and 700 million doses available globally by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

AstraZeneca said it will have 200 million doses by the end of 2020, with 700 million doses ready globally by the end of the first quarter of 2021. However, regulators must approve all three vaccines before they can be widely distributed.

“My suspicion is that by the time we are a year down the line, we’ll be using all three vaccines with about 90 percent protection — and we’ll be a lot happier,” said Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London.

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