Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine 'highly effective', could give up to 90 per cent protection

Key researcher Dr Andrew Pollard said scientists were pleased with the results

Virus Outbreak Vaccine Study Paused Representational image

Announcing crucial results in the race to develop vaccines against the global coronavirus pandemic, pharma giants AstraZeneca said late-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine—developed in association with Oxford University—were "highly effective'' in preventing the disease. The vaccine candidate prevented 70 per cent cent of people from developing the coronavirus in late-stage trials, the team reported on Monday. Key researcher Dr Andrew Pollard said scientists were pleased with the results. He said researchers found that if people were given a half dose followed by a full dose, rather than two full doses, protection rose to about 90 per cent.

The announcement comes on the back of two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, reporting preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.

"One dosing regimen (n=2,741) showed vaccine efficacy of 90 per cent when [vaccine candidate] AZD1222 was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart, and another dosing regimen (n=8,895) showed 62 per cent efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens (n=11,636) resulted in an average efficacy of 70 per cent. All results were statistically significant (p<=0.0001). More data will continue to accumulate and additional analysis will be conducted, refining the efficacy reading and establishing the duration of protection," according to a statement from AstraZeneca. 

"An independent Data Safety Monitoring Board determined that the analysis met its primary endpoint showing protection from COVID-19 occurring 14 days or more after receiving two doses of the vaccine. No serious safety events related to the vaccine have been confirmed. AZD1222 was well tolerated across both dosing regimens."

"AstraZeneca will now immediately prepare regulatory submission of the data to authorities around the world that have a framework in place for conditional or early approval. The Company will seek an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income countries. In parallel, the full analysis of the interim results is being submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal," the company said.

Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial at Oxford, 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 per cent effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply. Today’s announcement is only possible thanks  to  the  many  volunteers  in  our  trial,  and  the  hard  working  and  talented  team  of  researchers based around the world.”

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, 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 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.”