LONDON — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday late-stage trials of its Covid-19 vaccine have shown it to be “highly effective” in preventing disease.
Analysis of data from a phase 3 trial showed that the vaccine, developed in conjunction with U.K.’s University of Oxford, was 90 percent effective at stopping the disease when half a dose was administered followed by a full dose. In another dosing regiment, when two full doses were administered, the vaccine was 62 percent effective, researchers said, resulting in combined average efficacy of 70 percent.
“We’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 percent effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial.
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More analysis is needed to determine how long the protection rendered by the vaccine could last.
The results of the AstraZeneca’s vaccine trials are the third promising breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 1.4 million people and roiled the global economy.
The creators of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which uses a weakened version of a common cold virus, said it could be administered in existing healthcare settings, like medical clinics and local pharmacies, and stored at a “fridge temperature” of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months, making its distribution easier.
There were no hospitalized or severe cases in anyone who received the vaccine, researchers said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the news but warned that more research was needed before a vaccine was distributed widely.
“Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials,” he said in a tweet. “There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results.”
Researchers said 131 Covid-19 cases were detected in over 24,000 volunteers from diverse racial and geographical groups in clinical trials in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa. Further trials are also being conducted in the U.S., Kenya, Russia, Japan and India.
The vaccine efficacy data will now be submitted to regulators across the world, the company said, including in the U.K., Europe and Brazil, for review and approval. It will also seek an emergency use authorization from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income countries.
AstraZeneca already has international agreements in place to supply three billion doses of the vaccine, the company said.
Laura Saravia contributed.