Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine shows high efficacy, and is cheaper to make and easier to store

Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine, being developed in partnership with drugmaker AstraZeneca, has shown to be 70.4% effective in preliminary results from its Phase 3 clinical trial. That rate actually includes data from two different approaches to dosing, including one where two full strength does were applied, which was 62% effective, and a much more promising dosage trial which used one half-dose and one full strength dose to follow – that one was 90% effective.


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Oxford’s results may not have the eye-catching high efficacy headline totals of the recent announcements from Pfizer and Moderna, but they could actually represent some of the most promising yet for a few different reasons. First, if that second dosage strategy holds true across later results and further analysis, it means that the Oxford vaccine can be administered in lower amounts and provide stronger efficacy (there’s no reason to use the full two-dose method if it’s that much less effective).

Second, the Oxford vaccine can be stored and transported at standard refrigerator temperatures – between 35° and 45°F – whereas the other two vaccine candidates require storage at lower temperatures. That helps obviate the need for more specialized equipment during transportation and on-site at clinics and hospitals where it will be administered.

Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine also uses a different approach to either Moderna’s or Pfizer’s, which are both mRNA vaccines. That’s a relatively unproven technology when it comes to human therapeutics, which involves using messenger RNA to provide blueprints to a person’s body to build proteins effective at blocking a virus, without any virus present. The Oxford University candidate is an adenovirus vaccine, which is a much more established technology that’s already been in use for decades, and which involves genetically altering a weekend common cold virus and using that to trigger a person’s own natural immune response.

Finally, it’s also cheaper – in part because it uses tried and tested technology for which there’s already a robust and mature supply chain, and in part because it’s easier to transport and store.

The Phase 3 trial for the Oxford vaccine included 24,000 participants, and it’s expected to grow to 60,000 by the end of the year. Safety data so far shows no significant risks, and among the 131 confirmed cases in the interim analysis that produced these results, none of those who received either vaccine dosage developed a severe case, or one requiring hospitalization.

This is great news for potential vaccination programs, since it introduces variety of supply chain into an apparently effective vaccine treatment for COVID-19. We’re much better off if we have not only multiple effective vaccines, but multiple different types of effective vaccines, in terms of being able to inoculate widely as quickly as possible.

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AstraZeneca and Oxford university say vaccine shows high efficacy

The coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford university and AstraZeneca has shown greater than expected efficacy, a landmark finding that will boost hopes there is a way out of the pandemic for countries without access to jabs made by rival drugmakers.

On Monday, Oxford and AstraZeneca said two different dosing regimens showed different levels of efficacy in late-stage trials in the UK and Brazil.

When the vaccine was given as a half dose, followed by a full one at least one month later, efficacy was 90 per cent. When the jab was given as two full doses at least one month apart, efficacy was 62 per cent. The average efficacy was 70 per cent.

All results were statistically significant and greater than the efficacy sought by both the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.

AstraZeneca said it would submit the data for regulatory approval “immediately”.

Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the trial at Oxford, said: “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives.”

The Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is the great hope of British science and during the summer was regarded worldwide as the leader in Covid-19 vaccine race, as its clinical trials proceeded first in the UK and then the US, Brazil and elsewhere. AstraZeneca planned to enrol up to 60,000 trial participants globally, more than any other vaccine candidate.

But Oxford fell behind Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech when its trial was halted following the illness of one participant — an adverse event that turned out on investigation not to be caused by the vaccine itself. In the UK and Brazil the trial resumed after a few days but in the US the delay lasted several weeks; American trial data were not included in the interim analysis published today.

Alok Sharma, the UK business secretary, said that the data from the phase 3 trials from Oxford and AstraZeneca was “very promising”. “We are on the cusp of a huge scientific breakthrough that could protect millions of lives,” he said, adding that the UK had secured early access to 100m doses of the vaccine.

Better than expected results from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — showing efficacy close to 95 per cent — spurred widespread optimism and market rallies, though their vaccines are sold at profit, and much of their projected supply for next year has been secured by richer nations. By contrast, AstraZeneca, along with Johnson & Johnson, has said it will sell its inoculation at cost. J&J trials are ongoing.

The jab is priced at about $3 to $4 a dose, supply deals suggest, a fraction of that of other vaccines. AstraZeneca has agreed to sell it at cost to developing nations in perpetuity. The vaccine can be stored long-term at normal fridge temperature, between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. Others require a storage temperature as low as -70C. Astra is targeting the manufacture of up to 3bn doses next

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