Oxford and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is 70% effective — India may authorise emergency use after UK nod

Oxford and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is 70% effective — India may authorise emergency use after UK nod
Trials of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in Pune, IndiaBCCL
  • The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has shown 70% efficacy in its latest results.
  • While a success, the effectiveness of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine lags behind its competitors Moderna and Pfizer.
  • The Oxford COVID-19’s edge in India is that it can survive in warmer temperatures, reducing the stress on India’s cold storage infrastructure.
The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca has successfully battled the infection in 70.4% of its candidates, according to the study’s latest results.

While still above the efficacy target laid out by White House coronavirus advisor Anthony Fauci and the World Health Organisation (WHO) of 50%, the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine lags behind its competitors, Moderna and Pfizer.

In its latest results, the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech had an efficacy of 95%. Moderna, in its results so far, has claimed a 94.5% efficacy rate.

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However, the results of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine leave the door open for it to become more effective. According to the study, perfecting the dose could increase protection up to 90%.

“Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply,” said Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Andrew Pollard.

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in India
VK Paul, the chair of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19, stated that India may approve the emergency use of the vaccine once it gets a nod from the UK. The Company has plans to manufacture 3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021 on a rolling basis, pending regulatory approval.

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And, when it comes to India, the edge that the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has over others is that it can survive in warmer temperatures. And, it's estimated to be much cheaper as well.

According to the Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Randeep Guleria, the Pfizer vaccine’s requirement of a lower storage temperature is something that India’s cold storage infrastructure may not be able to support for the population of 1.3 billion.

In comparison to Pfizer, which needs temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius to survive, the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine will remain stable at normal refrigerated temperatures of between two to eight degrees Celsius, which makes both storage and transportation much easier.

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Oxford COVID-19 vaccine’s room for improving effectiveness
Code-named AZD1222, the clinical trials of patients in the UK and Brazil were taken into account for these results. There were a total of 131 COVID-19 cases in the interim analysis.

What the researchers observed was that the stronger dosage regime — of a half dose first and a full dose one month later — showed vaccine efficacy of 90%. The weaker dosing regime, given the same time apart, only gave 62% efficacy.

This will get refined further as clinical trials continue to be conducted, not only in India, but also in the US, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America. In total, the Company expects to enrol up to 60,000 participants globally.

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