Oxford vaccine up to 90 per cent effective, initial data shows

A coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University may be up to 90 per cent effective at preventing people from getting Covid-19, preliminary data shows.

Overall results from phase three of the trial reveal the vaccine is 70.4 per cent effective on average. 

But when administered at a half dose and then a full dose the vaccine can be up to 90 per cent effective, the scientists said.

When delivered in two full doses it produced 62 per cent effectiveness.

Experts behind the study believe that a smaller initial dose may prime the immune system to give a bigger, better response when it meets coronavirus.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University said their jab is effective in stopping most people from contracting coronavirus and falling seriously ill, with some indications that it can also prevent people passing the virus to others.

The study, involving more than 24,000 volunteers, showed there were no serious cases among those who received the vaccine, including no hospitalisations, the researchers said.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said the UK has 100 million doses of the vaccine on order and it is expected to be rolled out from December, with the bulk of vaccinations in the new year.

He said: "I’m really very pleased, I really welcome these figures – this data that shows that the vaccine in the right dosage can be up to 90 per cent effective.

"If this all goes well in the next couple of weeks, then we are looking at the potential of starting the vaccination programme next month for this Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Pfizer vaccine.

"But in all cases the bulk of the rollout will be in the new year.

"We are looking with high confidence now that after Easter things can really start to get back to normal."

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, 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 regimen 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.”

A coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University may be up to 90 per cent effective at preventing people from getting Covid-19, preliminary data shows.  

Credit: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials.

"There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results."

The Oxford vaccine can be stored at 2-8 °C making distribution and storage easier.

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford, welcomed the fact that the vaccine can be stored in a fridge rather than the minus 70C to minus 80C needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

He tweeted: "Oxford jab is far cheaper, and is easier to store and get to every corner of the world than the other two."

In a statement, he added: "This is very welcome news, we can clearly see the end of tunnel now."

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