LONDON: The head of British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca said on Thursday further research was needed on its Covid-19 vaccine after questions emerged over the protection it offers, but the additional testing is unlikely to affect regulatory approval in Europe.

AstraZeneca and its partner, the University of Oxford, announced on Monday that it was seeking regulatory approval for the vaccine after it showed an average 70-percent effectiveness.

That rate jumped to 90 percent when an initial half-dose then a full dose was given, similar to that in rival vaccines in development by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

But US scientists have said the higher rate of effectiveness came during tests in people aged 55 and under, and was discovered by accident during the clinical trials.

The head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Andrew Pollard, said this week that further evidence will be available next month, but the result was still “highly significant”.

He said he expected that to be another “international study but this one could be faster because we know the efficacy is high, so we need a smaller number of patients”.

There are high hopes for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, which Pollard has hailed as a “vaccine for the world” given that it could be cheaper to make, and easier to store and distribute.

It can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions of between two and eight degrees Celsius (36-46 Fahrenheit) for at least six months.

Pfizer/BioNTech’s offering requires temperatures of -70C, driving up costs and potentially making it out of reach for lower and middle-income countries.

AstraZeneca/Oxford has also promised to provide its vaccine to the developing world on a non-profit basis.

Wait and see

The World Health Organization said it looked forward to the full publication of the data from the trial.

“On a review of the detailed data, we will be better positioned to understand the vaccine performance,” it said.

The chief medical officer for England, Chris Whitty, also cautioned against drawing premature conclusions, and urged patience until the data were published in peer-reviewed journals.

“It’s always a mistake to make too many judgments early and in particular before the independent regulator has had a chance to look at the results,” he told a news conference.

Helen Fletcher, professor of immunology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the safety data available on the vaccine had been “very robust”.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Another lynching
Updated 22 Jun, 2024

Another lynching

The chilling alternative to not doing anything — which appears to be the state’s preferred option — is the advent of mob rule.
Tax & representation
22 Jun, 2024

Tax & representation

THE taxation measures outlined in the budget for the incoming fiscal year have triggered a lot of concern among ...
Life of the party?
22 Jun, 2024

Life of the party?

THE launch of Awaam Pakistan, a party led by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister...
KP’s ‘power struggle’
Updated 21 Jun, 2024

KP’s ‘power struggle’

Instead of emboldening protesters, CM Gandapur should encourage his provincial subjects to clear their due bills and ensure theft is minimised.
Journalist’s murder
21 Jun, 2024

Journalist’s murder

ANOTHER name has been added to the list of journalists murdered in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalil Jibran’s vehicle...
A leaner government?
21 Jun, 2024

A leaner government?

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries...