AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine is 70% effective on average, data shows

Grant Boone
November 24, 2020

Canada could approve one or more COVID-19 vaccines early in the first quarter of 2021, under a new, accelerated process similar to the USA emergency use authorization, according to Health Canada, the country's drug regulator.

Another notable advantage of the vaccine is that it can be stored under normal fridge conditions, rather than in freezers, and therefore distributed via existing channels.

At 70 percent protection, the efficacy of the eagerly-awaited vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca may not, on the face of it, look as good as the two previous vaccines that have posted results in recent weeks.

A third drug company is claiming its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against the virus and that it's ready to seek approvals just a week after two other candidates also touted promising results.

"Excitingly, we've found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply".

The company said it was making "rapid progress" in manufacturing, with a capacity of up to 3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021 on a rolling basis, pending regulatory approval.

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AstraZeneca, which has promised not to profit from the vaccine "for the duration of the pandemic", said it will now immediately prepare to submit the data to regulators around the world - including in the United Kingdom, Europe and Brazil - that have framework in place for conditional or early approval.

As only a subgroup of the trial received this half-dose regimen, more work will now be conducted to investigate further, although researchers are "reasonably confident" that this could be a significant result, he added.

Professor Peter Piot of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine told the Science Media Centre he was "very pleased" to see the the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine's efficacy rates of 62% to 90%, depending on the doses used.

Health Canada had already approved one COVID-19 treatment, Gilead's remdesivir, more quickly than that, citing the "high unmet medical need and emergency context of the COVID-19 pandemic".

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Pollard stressed that if the world is to get back to normal, global vaccination is key.

"We are looking at four million finished doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020, and 40 million by the end of the first quarter next year", said Pam Cheng, executive vice-president of operations and information technology at AstraZeneca. He said that process would have to be a collaborative effort. Who are the top contenders in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine?

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