Wednesday, 03 March, 2021


AstraZeneca CEO says new global trial on COVID-19 vaccine likely

The Astra Zeneca Plc Da Vinci building stands at the Melbourn Science Park in Cambridge U.K The Astra Zeneca Plc Da Vinci building stands at the Melbourn Science Park in Cambridge U.K
Bennie Garza | 27 November, 2020, 04:30

AstraZeneca - the company collaborating with Oxford University on a coronavirus vaccine - is set to run an extra trial of the jab.

According to reports, AstraZeneca has acknowledged a key error in the dosage received by some of the study participants, adding to questions about whether the vaccine's spectacular efficacy will hold up under additional testing.

AstraZeneca faces more vaccine questions after manufacturing error.

Michael Mullette, managing director of Moderna's Canadian unit, said timing of shipments will depend in part on which countries have approved its vaccine, noting that Canada has been working to speed up the regulatory process.

Asked about the Bloomberg report, an AstraZeneca spokesman said there was "strong merit in continuing to further investigate the half-dose/ full dose regimen".

MHRA Chief Executive June Raine said "no vaccine would be authorized for supply in the United Kingdom unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met".

In a statement, Oxford University said some of the vials used in the trial didn't have the right concentration of vaccine so some volunteers got a half dose.

The university said that it discussed the problem with regulators, agreed to complete the late stage trial with two groups, and the problem has since been corrected.

The AZD1222 (named Covishield in India) vaccine's average efficacy, combining the two separate dosing regimens, was pegged at around 70 per cent, as per an analysis.

Scientists across the globe are hoping to find vaccines that work in older people - the group who are most at risk from Covid-19.

The United States is to get more than six million doses from Pfizer immediately, and expects to begin vaccinating people within 48 hours of approval being given.

Along with the error, scientists and industry experts said a series of other irregularities and omissions in the manner in which AstraZeneca initially disclosed the data have also eroded confidence in the reliability of their results. "We have very similar authorization pathways that are available for public health emergencies", she said.

Full results are due to be published in medical journal The Lancet, though no date has been given. In the data seen so far, the vaccine appeared to be at least 70% effective at preventing infection from the coronavirus, though it may be up to 90% effective with. AstraZeneca's double dose is the cheapest, costing about €2.5 ($3) per dose and requires just a normal fridge temperature. "The key thing from our point of view is to leave this in the hands of the regulator, the excellent MHRA regulator", Whitty said at a press conference on Thursday.

"But absent proof, I think it's important that we don't change behaviours exclusively on the basis of vaccination", said Dr Zaks, suggesting that people continue to use non-medical methods like wearing masks and social distancing to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

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