British pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca claimed to have found, after additional research, “the winning formula” for its vaccine against Covid-19 developed with the University of Oxford. The British regulator is due to vote on this vaccine in the next few days.
“We believe that we have found the winning formula and how to achieve an efficacy which, with two doses, is high like that of the others”, declared the managing director Pascal Soriot in the Sunday Times, assuring that his vaccine provided a “protection 100% “against severe forms of Covid-19.
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A vaccine that is 70% effective
In interim results from large-scale clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil, the British laboratory announced in November that its vaccine was on average 70% effective against more than 90% for those of Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna .
Behind this average result were hiding large differences between two different protocols: the effectiveness is 90% for the volunteers who first received a half-dose, then a full dose a month later, but only 62% for another group vaccinated with two full doses.
These results had been criticized because the injection of half a dose was due to an error and a relatively small group had followed this protocol. The company then announced that its vaccine required “additional study”.
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A highly anticipated vaccine
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is eagerly awaited because it is relatively inexpensive (four dollars a dose) and can be stored in conventional freezers and not at -70 degrees like that of Pfizer / BioNTech for example.
This makes vaccination on a large scale as well as in retirement homes easier.
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The first Western country to have started injecting Pfizer / BioNTech doses in early December, the United Kingdom is counting on this second vaccine to gain momentum and to put an end to the surge in cases attributed to its soil to a new variant of the coronavirus.
Against this mutation, “we believe for the moment that the vaccine should remain effective”, indicated Pascal Soriot. “But we can’t be sure so we’ll do some testing.”
He assured that new versions were prepared just in case, while hoping not to need them: “You have to be prepared”.
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350 million doses
The UK government announced on December 23 that it had submitted complete data for the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine to the UK regulator, the MHRA. According to the British press, the latter must decide in the next few days for injection from January 4. The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, of which 40 million will be available by the end of March.
In all, the government has ensured access to more than 350 million doses by the end of next year, sourcing from seven manufacturers as early as the clinical trials phase. In total, more than 600,000 people have already received a first dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
The success of the current campaign in the United Kingdom is made all the more crucial as the United Kingdom, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic with more than 70,000 dead, is seeing the contaminations pick up again.
The authorities attributed this resurgence to a mutation, which, according to a British study, has 50% to 74% greater contagiousness.
To counter this trend, the authorities have reconfigured part of the population, especially in London. Since Saturday, mainland Scotland and Northern Ireland have in turn been subject to containment.
“See the light at the end of the tunnel”
“The year has been difficult for everyone in this country,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak admitted in the Mail on Sunday. “The launch of the vaccination and the extraordinary work of our scientists and caregivers mean we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is based on a weakened version of a virus common in chimpanzees, genetically modified.
His way of delivering genetic material into cells, ordering them to attack SARS-CoV-2, has been touted as a “Trojan horse”.