The lead investigator of the Oxford University/ AstraZeneca vaccine trials says “we have a vaccine for the world” after the British jab was found to be up to 90 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said it was “a very exciting day” following news that the jab could stop most people from contracting coronavirus and falling seriously ill, with some indications that it can also prevent people passing the virus to others.
“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives.
“We have a vaccine for the world because we’ve got a vaccine which is highly effective – it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation.
“I think this is an incredibly exciting moment for human health.”
700 million doses
Prof Pollard told reporters the 90 per cent effectiveness finding has already met the “necessary statistical evidence as required by regulators”.
He said further evidence will probably be available next month but it is “a highly significant result even with the numbers that we have”.
He also celebrated the suggestion that the vaccine could reduce asymptomatic infection.
“If that is right, we might be able to halt the virus in its tracks and stop transmitting between people,” he said.
AstraZeneca plans to have 700 million doses of the jab globally by the end of March.
Some four million full doses will be available in the UK by the end of this year with 40 million doses by the end of March, according to the firm.
“We have a robust supply chain which is capable of manufacturing at scale and we can do it very quickly,” Pam Cheng, executive vice president of operations and information technology at AstraZeneca, told reporters.
Today marks an important milestone in the fight against #COVID19. Interim data show the #OxfordVaccine is 70.4% effective, & tests on two dose regimens show that it could be 90%, moving us one step closer to supplying it at low cost around the world>> https://t.co/fnHnKSqftT pic.twitter.com/2KYXPxFNz1— University of Oxford (@UniofOxford) November 23, 2020
The end of the tunnel
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 the tunnel now.”
Professor Azra Ghani, chair in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, said: “A particular strength of this vaccine is that it can be stored in a fridge; this means that it can be distributed around the world using existing delivery mechanisms.
“This could therefore have a truly significant impact across the globe and enable an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.”