The United Kingdom, the country most affected by the pandemic in Europe with more than 57,000 deaths due to the virus, is also “the first country in the world to sign a contract with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, guaranteeing it access to a hundred million doses,” according to the Ministry of Health in a precedent that reflects London’s aspiration to become Among the first countries to conduct vaccination on a large scale, using a vaccine that was manufactured and approved locally, amid a state of “economic emergency.”
“We have formally requested the Medicines Regulatory Authority to evaluate the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and determine whether it meets stringent safety standards,” Health Minister Matt Hancock said in a statement. He added that if approved, this would constitute “an important step towards launching a vaccine as soon as possible.”
If the vaccine is approved, 4 million doses will be delivered to the UK before the end of the year, followed by another 40 million doses before the end of March 2021.
And the president of AstraZeneca announced Thursday that more research is needed on the vaccine that the company is developing to fight Covid-19, after questions arose about the protection it could provide.
Based on preliminary results from large-scale clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil, the British laboratory announced Monday that its vaccine was 70% effective on average.
However, behind this average result there are large differences between two different protocols: an efficacy rate of 90% for volunteers who received half a dose the first time and then a full dose a month later, and only 62% for the second group who received two full doses of the vaccine a month apart.
While giving half the dose was originally by mistake, which explains why it was given to only 3,000 patients, the results seem to show that this first regimen leads to a better immune response.
The company was criticized for the size of this group and also because the result was due to a mistake.