The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have announced that the vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019 is up to 90% effective at preventing COVID-19.
AstraZeneca have also promised that the Vaccine will be sold at cost – between $3-$4 a dose – to all nations during the pandemic, and to developing nations in perpetuity. This is a fraction of other candidates like Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which are sold at profit.
Phase 3 analysis data shows that the vaccine is 70.4% effective, combining data from two different ways of administering the vaccine. The effectiveness of the first method is 90% and the second is 60.2%. The more effective method, or dosing regimen, was delivered using a half dose then a full dose whereas the less effective used two full doses.
Additionally, the vaccine is able to be stored at ‘fridge temperature’ (2-8°) which is vital in ensuring that it can be readily received and distributed by existing healthcare systems. To support this, large scale manufacturing is taking place around the world in more than 10 countries which will aid in distribution on a global scale.
In response to the breakthrough, Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine trial said: “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regimen is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply. Today’s announcement is possible thanks to the many volunteers in our trial, and the hard working and talented team of researchers around the world.”
Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford said: “The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by SARS-CoV-2. 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 reap the benefits for the whole world.”
The trials included over 24,000 volunteers from racially and geographically diverse groups in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and additional trials in the US, Japan, Kenya and India are expected to have 60,000 by the end of 2020. These further trials will offer more data and confirmations of the safety and efficiency of the vaccine, including both the ability to protect against as well as prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The University and AstraZeneca have emphasised that they are committed to providing the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis globally, concentrating in low and middle-income countries, for the duration of the pandemic.
Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer of AstraZeneca said: “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 the 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.”
In an email sent out to students of the University, Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson iterated the sense of pride the University has for the team working on the vaccine.
“Above all, I would like, on behalf of all us, to express my appreciation and admiration of the work of Professors Andrew Pollard, Adrian Hill and Sarah Gilbert and the 280 members of their team who have been working seven days a week since January to get us to this point.”
“Today’s news brings closer the day when people all over the world will have access to a safe, effective and affordable vaccine against COVID-19.”
This news follows findings of 95% effectiveness in trials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. However, these are harder to store and distribute as well as being more expensive, highlighting the importance of the results published today.
The Prime Minister expressed his approval and excitement regarding the news, tweeting: “Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results.” As well as congratulating the scientists and volunteers involved in the trials.
This news, along with that of other vaccines, brings the world closer to a return to normality and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.
In more good news, Oxford University has recorded only 40 news cases for the week 14 – 20 November, the lowest number since term began. The positivity rate has also decreased to 17.4% from last week’s 30%.