Oxford Covid vaccine up to 90% effective, trial results suggest

‘There were no hospitalisations or severe cases in anyone who had the Oxford vaccine’, study leader says

Vincent Wood
Monday 23 November 2020 11:02
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British vaccine is at least 70.4% effective against Covid-19

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University has the capacity to be up to 90 per cent effective, a large-scale trial has suggested ahead of an assessment by regulators.

The UK’s most promising immunisation, which was developed in partnership with drug firm AstraZeneca, was found overall to have an efficacy of 70.4 per cent – stopping fewer people from developing Covid symptoms than those made by Pfizer and Moderna which showed around 95% protection.

However in a regimen where patients received a half dose of the vaccine the first time around, followed by a full dose a month later, the protection from the Oxford immunisation stood at around 90 per cent - according to the vaccine group’s director Professor Andrew Pollard.

He added there had been no hospitalisations or severe cases in anyone who had the Oxford vaccine in the trial.

"We are really pleased with these results," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme."What we have got is a vaccine that is able to protect against coronavirus disease and, importantly, there were no hospitalisations or severe cases in anyone who had the Oxford vaccine. 

"So, that means that if we did have people vaccinated then certainly so far the results imply that we would be able to stop people getting severe disease and going into hospital."

The UK has placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine – enough to vaccinate most of the population – with rollout expected in the coming weeks if the jab is approved.

Boris Johnson heralded the development as “incredibly exciting news” adding one Twitter. “There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results.”

And Matt Hancock told the BBC the government hoped vaccination will be able to begin next month.

“The bulk of the vaccine rollout programme will be in January, February, March. And we hope that sometime after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal”, he added.

He earlier told Sky News: “We’ve got 100 million doses on order and should all that go well, the bulk of the rollout will be in the new year.”

Alongside its efficacy, which is higher than that of typical flu vaccines, scientists are hopeful its pricing and the ease with it can be stored will make the Oxford jab a core part of international efforts to limit the spread of the virus which has killed at least 1.39 million people and infected 58.6 million globall.

The vaccine can be stored at standard fridge temperature – making it easier to hold and transport than the alternative produced by Pfizer’s, which must remain extremely cold before being used on patients.

Meanwhile Astrazeneca’s commitment not to profit from the immunisation makes it cheaper than its rivals from the US.

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford tweeted: “Oxford jab is far cheaper, and is easier to store and get to every corner of the world than the other two.”

And Dr Michael Tildesley, associate professor in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, told Times Radio: “It’s absolutely excellent news about the Oxford vaccine because this is really the vaccine that the Government has pinned a lot of their hopes on in terms of resources - we’ve ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine.”

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said: the announcement “takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation” caused by the virus.

"We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world."

As well as being easier to store than some rivals, commitments by AstraZeneca not to profit from the immunisation may also make it cheaper than its counterparts. Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer at the firm, said the news is an "important milestone" in the fight against the pandemic.

He added: "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.

"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."

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