New Delhi: British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine has achieved a “winning formula” for efficacy, Pascal Soriot, CEO of the company said in an interview with a British newspaper. He also added that the vaccine should be effective against the new mutant strain of Covid-19 found in the UK and other parts of the world.
Experts believe that Oxford’s vaccine could become the first one to get emergency use approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI). Others in the fray include Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine and ICMR-Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Soriot believes trials will show that AstraZeneca has achieved a vaccine efficacy equal to Pfizer-BioNTech at 95 per cent and Moderna at 94.5 per cent. “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” Soriot said in an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper. The CEO added that data would be published at “some point”.
Asked if the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be effective against the new mutant variant of Covid-19 found in the UK and other parts of the world, he said it “should” be.
The UK government, on 23 December, announced that the developers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine had submitted their data to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Approval is likely to be granted on Monday to roll out the jab.
The Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine was the first one to be authorised for use by the UK’s independent medicines regulator and has been given to 6,00,000 people since last month.
AstraZeneca shot’s efficacy in earlier trials had varying outcomes and showed an average of 70 per cent effectiveness but later jumped to 90 per cent depending on the dosage. However, the vaccine was found to have 90 per cent efficacy on volunteers who received a half-dose first and then a full dose one month later.
Soriot said he was “surprised” by the initial findings. He added, “We would have preferred a simpler set of results.”
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has a logistical advantage over the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, as it can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions of between two and eight degrees Celsius for at least six months. On the other hand, Pfizer-BioNTech’s candidate needs to be stored at around -70 Celsius.