AstraZeneca has reported that late-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease, preventing 70% of people from developing the coronavirus.
They added that if people were given a half dose followed by a full dose, rather than two full doses, protection rose to about 90%.
“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.
The vaccine will be seen as a triumph, but it comes off the back of Pfizer and Moderna showing 95% protection. However, the Oxford jab is far cheaper, and is easier to store and get to every corner of the world than the other two.
“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said.
“Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.”
The UK government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, enough to immunise 50 million people.
There are four million doses ready to go, with another 96 million to be delivered.
But nothing can happen until the vaccine has been approved by regulators who will assess the vaccine’s safety, effectiveness, and that it is manufactured to high standard. This process will happen in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results.”
The vaccine has been developed in around 10 months, a process that normally takes a decade.
“The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by [the virus],” said the vaccine’s architect Prof Sarah Gilbert.