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Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid's Covid vaccine reveals a median effectiveness of 70% in stopping the virus

CSL staff will be working in the laboratory on November 08, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia, where they will begin manufacturing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine.

Darrian Traynor | Getty Images

LONDON – UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that an interim clinical trial analysis showed its coronavirus vaccine had an average of 70% effectiveness in protecting against the virus.

It comes after a series of encouraging vaccination results in the past few weeks after Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna read late-stage studies.

Both Pfizer and Moderna reported preliminary results that showed their respective Covid vaccines were about 95% effective.

It is hoped that a Covid vaccine can help end the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, has been assessed using two different dosage regimens.

One dosing regimen showed 90% effectiveness when subjects received half a dose followed by a full dose at least a month apart. The other showed 62% effectiveness when given in two full doses at least a month apart.

The combined analysis of both dosage regimens showed an average vaccine effectiveness of 70%. No hospitalizations or serious illnesses were reported in the participants who received the vaccine.

"These results show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives," said Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the Oxford Vaccine Trial, in a statement.

"Excitingly, we have found that one of our dosage regimens can be about 90% effective. If that dosage regimen is used, more people could be vaccinated with the planned vaccine supply."

In the interim analysis, a total of 131 Covid 19 cases were assessed.

An "important milestone"

More than 23,000 volunteers took part in the trials, which were carried out in the UK and Brazil. More data from around the world will be collected in the coming weeks.

According to AstraZeneca, additional analysis of the vaccine data could alter the results in terms of their average effectiveness and help determine the duration of protection.

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said the development was an "important milestone" in the fight against the global health crisis.

"The efficacy and safety of this vaccine confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and have an immediate impact on this public health emergency," said Soriot.

"In addition, the vaccine's simple supply chain and our charitable promise and commitment to widespread, equitable, and timely access means that it will be affordable, available worldwide, and deliver hundreds of millions of doses when approved."

The company's shares fell more than 1.5% in morning trading.

AstraZeneca said it would immediately prepare to submit the data to government agencies around the world that have a framework for conditional or early approval.

Sales challenges

However, major challenges remain before a vaccine can be introduced. The global battle to secure potential deliveries has raised the alarm about fair access while questions about the logistics of mass production, distribution and costs remain open.

According to AstraZeneca, the vaccine can be stored, transported, and handled and administered in existing healthcare facilities for at least six months under normal refrigeration conditions (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit).

It is said to be making "rapid strides" toward manufacturing capacity of up to 3 billion doses of the vaccine by the next year pending regulatory approval. The company has pledged to sell the vaccine "for the duration of the pandemic" for no profit.

According to Moderna, the vaccine candidate will remain stable for up to 30 days at the temperature of a normal household refrigerator. It can also be stored at negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit for up to six months.

In August, the US biotech company announced it was charging some customers between $ 32 and $ 37 per dose for its vaccine.

Unlike Moderna's vaccine, the Pfizer and BioNTech candidates require a storage temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit as well as special storage facilities and transportation. This could make it very difficult for some countries to disperse.

Pfizer reportedly charges $ 20 per dose for its vaccine.

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