New results on a possible COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca suggest it is safe and about 70% effective.
Some experts say that shows it is likely to win approval, but questions remain about how well it may help protect those over 55. That's a key concern for a vaccine that health officials hope to rely on around the world because of its low cost, availability and ease of use.
Partial results from tests of the vaccine in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa were published Tuesday by the medical journal Lancet.
“Today, we have published the interim analysis of the Phase III trial and show that this new vaccine has a good safety record and efficacy against the coronavirus,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial. “We are hugely grateful to our trial volunteers for working with us over the past eight months to bring us to this milestone.”
Researchers claim the vaccine protected against disease in 62% of those given two full doses and in 90% of those initially given the half dose. However, independent experts have said the second group was too small — 2,741 people — to judge the possible value of that approach and more testing is needed.
The interim analysis for efficacy was based on 11,636 participants accruing 131 symptomatic infections from the Phase III trials.
In addition to the Oxford led program, AstraZeneca is conducting a large study in the US and globally. In total, Oxford University and AstraZeneca expect to enroll more than 60,000 participants globally.
The company says it’s also making progress in manufacturing with a capacity of up to 3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021 on a rolling basis, pending regulatory approval. The vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions for at least six months and administered within existing health care settings.