Kate Garraway says coronavirus vaccine is 'extraordinary'
The jubilation following the vaccine results last month seems a distant memory in light of recent events. The hopes raised by trial results from Oxford, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been overshadowed by the new mutated strain of coronavirus running rampant across the UK. Now the boss of AstraZeneca, which is behind the Oxford vaccine, has brought the vaccines sharply into focus once again.
AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times he believed researchers had found the “winning formula” using two doses and promised to publish the results as reports suggested the UK regulator could approve the jab within days.
The news will provide considerable relief in Westminster because the home-grown vaccine appeared to lag behind Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in terms of efficacy.
Trials of the vaccine, developed by the university along with AstraZeneca, showed an efficacy rate of 90 percent when people were given half a dose followed by a whole dose at least a month later.
When two full doses were given at least a month apart, the vaccine had an efficacy of 62 percent.
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The outcome is that – when all the results were taken into account, the overall efficacy was 70 percent.
In contrast, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were shown to be 95 percent and 94.5 percent effective respectively.
But Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, told the Sunday Times: “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else.
“I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.”
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The government has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, with around 40 million expected to be available by the end of March.
Mr Soriot described the earlier results had been “positive”, adding: “They meet the criteria established by regulators around the world.
“We assumed people would be a bit disappointed, that’s for sure, but we didn’t expect that storm.”
When will the UK start rolling it out?
Reports suggest the vaccine could be approved as early as next week, following the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the first week of December.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, distribution of the Oxford vaccine could be rolled out early as 4 January with the government hoping that more than two million people could have their first dose within the first two weeks.
Responding to the report, the government said that the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) must be given time to review the vaccine data.
“The medicines regulator is reviewing the final data from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca phase three clinical trials to determine whether the vaccine meets their strict standards of quality, safety and effectiveness,” it said.
“We must now give the MHRA the time to carry out its important work and we must wait for its advice.”
Meanwhile, on Christmas Eve the government published figures which show the number of people who have received the Pfizer vaccine between 8 December and 20 December in the UK.
More than 600,000 people in the UK received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during this period.
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), vaccines have been administered to care home residents, those aged 80 and over and health and social care staff through over 500 vaccination sites across the UK.
The vaccination programme will continue at pace over Christmas, the government said.
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