Study finds Covid-19 vaccine has 'substantial' effect on transmission

Clay Curtis
February 3, 2021

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which was first approved by the United Kingdom in December 2020, is substantially slowing the pace of coronavirus transmission, researchers at the University of Oxford said.

One of the lead researchers on the project, Dr. Andrew Pollard of Oxford University, said Oxford scientists believe the vaccine will continue to offer protection against new variants of COVID-19, although they are still waiting for data on this. Government officials and health experts have warned vaccines won't be a panacea for stopping the spread of the virus.

The team stresses that the new data show people are protected for a certain period after a single dose of the vaccine.

Currently, COVID-19 is evolving with new variants popping across the world, including places like Britain and South Africa. Researchers noted there were no additional cases of severe COVID in the vaccinated group, with no cases from 10 days after the first dose of vaccine, versus 22 in the control group.

Oxford also said data seemed to suggest the vaccine reduced transmission of infections, with a 67% reduction in positive swabs among those vaccinated in the British arm of the trial.

The U.K. applied the policy to both vaccines.

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The paper said that vaccine efficacy was 82.4% with 12 or more weeks to the second dose, compared to 54.9% for those where the booster was given under 6 weeks after the first dose.

The British government said this Wednesday that the study, which is still awaiting peer review, has vindicated its inoculation strategy.

According to the Lancet, the majority of those who participated in trials were between the ages of 18-55.

AstraZeneca's research chief has said 8-12 weeks between doses seems to be the "sweet spot" for efficacy, contrasting with US drugmaker Pfizer, which has warned that the vaccine it has developed with Germany's BioNTech was not trialled with such an interval.

But Oxford said the effect of longer intervals boosting protection is similar to findings for vaccines for influenza, Ebola and malaria. The vaccine has received a green light for use in India and elsewhere, including in Europe, but has hit manufacturing shortfalls in Europe. Last week, Germany's vaccine committee recommended it should only be given to people aged under 65, while the European Union, which authorized it on Friday for people aged 18 and over, lowered its reported efficacy rate from 70.4% to 60%. The jab has come under scrutiny because of the dosing error in the Oxford trial and a paucity of data about its efficacy in older people who are most vulnerable to the virus.

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