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AstraZeneca: Vaccine sees 90% potential efficacy rate

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AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has shown efficacy rates as high as 90% under a certain regiment, the company reported Nov. 23. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ASTRAZENECA

WILMINGTON – AstraZeneca reported Monday morning that its COVID-19 vaccine has shown an average 70% efficacy rate, with potential for up to 90%, giving further confidence to the public that medical preventatives will be on their way in 2021.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford in Britain, is the third to report efficacy rates of 90% or higher this month along with candidates from Pfizer and Moderna. The interim analysis of AstraZeneca’s vaccine AZD1222 from trials in Britain and Brazil showed no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 among those receiving the vaccine. There were 131 milder cases of COVID-19 reported in the study that included about 23,000 people.

The vaccine was shown to have a 62% efficacy rate when administered as two full doses a month apart, but those results improved to 90% when a half dose instead of a full was administered the first time. If that regiment is approved by regulators, it would mean that more people could potentially be vaccinated faster as less of the vaccine would be needed per person.

“Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. 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,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, in a statement announcing the trials preliminary results. “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 company, which is headquartered in Cambridge but has its U.S. headquarters near Wilmington, is ramping up preparation for manufacturing of up to 3 billion of the vaccine in 2021 on a rolling basis, pending regulatory approval. Unlike some of its competitors’ vaccines which require subzero temperatures for storage and transport, complicating the rollout of the products, AZD1222 can be stored, transported, and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months, AstraZeneca said.

At an estimated $3 to $4 a shot, AstraZeneca’s vaccine is also much cheaper than some other competitors. The company has pledged to not make a profit on its production until at least July 2021, with that guarantee continuing for poorer countries in perpetuity.

The company reported that it is preparing to apply for early use authorization of its vaccine to countries around the world as well as with the World Health Organization. It is also submitting the full analysis of the interim results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine trials were temporarily suspended in September after a British patient developed a neurological illness, but the company reported that “no serious safety events related to the vaccine have been confirmed,” indicating that scientists don’t believe the vaccine was the cause of those issues.

By Jacob Owens


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