Britain’s AstraZeneca and Oxford University said Monday that its coronavirus vaccine has proven to be up to 90 percent effective — and can be easily distributed because it does not need to be frozen.
“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” said Oxford University Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the drug’s trial.
AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report glowing late-stage results for its potential COVID-19 vaccine, joining Pfizer and Moderna whose vaccines were shown to be almost 95 percent effective in trials.
But unlike those candidates, the UK drug only needs to be refrigerated rather than frozen, 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 also stressed.
“This is important as the vaccine could reduce the spread of the virus as well as protect the vulnerable from severe disease.”
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.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the “incredibly exciting news.”
Employees processing serum at the laboratories of Oxford University to produce a coronavirus vaccine.EPA
All three vaccines must be approved by regulators 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.
Late-stage trials in the UK and Brazil showed the vaccine’s effectiveness depended on the dosing — with the cheaper option proving more effective.
With two doses, the effectiveness appeared to be just 62 percent — but was 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 when it was administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart.
There were no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 reported in those receiving the vaccine.
“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” Oxford University Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said in a statement.
With Post wires