A trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford has shown that it is highly effective in preventing people from getting COVID-19.
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The trial, which had over 20,000 volunteers tested, has shown the vaccine is 70% effective in protecting against COVID-19. Researchers leading the trial have said the protection rate could be as high as 90% if the dose were slightly modified.
From the trial, 30 participants tested positive for COVID-19 after being administered two doses of the vaccine. In contrast, 101 cases were recorded in people who were given a “dummy injection” as a control.
The trial’s lead investigator, Professor Andrew Pollard said the team was “really pleased with these results.”
The trial also found that those given two high doses of the vaccine had a protection rate of 62%. Volunteers showed 90% protection when administered one low dose, followed by a high dose. Although it has not yet been confirmed why this difference exists, Pollard told the BBC he found the 90% protection rate "intriguing" and beneficial as it would mean there would be “a lot more doses to distribute."
Although the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have demonstrated a 95% protection rate, the results from Oxford can still be seen as a great success.
There are also several benefits associated with the Oxford vaccine, including being cheaper than the others and being easier to transport and store.
Currently, the vaccine is waiting to be approved by regulators. However, if approved, it will help stop the spread of the virus and play a significant role in reducing the impact of the pandemic.
Professor Sarah Gilbert told the BBC, "The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by [the virus]."
AstraZeneca will be manufacturing the vaccine and has said they will release three billion doses to supply to the rest of the world next year. The British government has ordered 100 million doses.
Currently, there are 4 million doses of the vaccine ready to be distributed. This, however, cannot happen until regulators have approved the vaccine. The regulators will assess the vaccine for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing standard. The assessment process will get underway in the next few weeks.
The fact that the vaccine is easier to store, distribute and administer, means that it has a significant advantage. According to researchers, the Oxford vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature, therefore making it easier to transport. Pfizer and Moderna need their vaccines to be held at colder temperatures. Also, the estimated price for the Oxford vaccine is only £3. In contrast, Pzifer’s vaccine is estimated to cost around £15, and Moderna's about £25.
Oxford University’s Professor Peter Horby said, "This is very welcome news, we can clearly see the end of the tunnel now. There were no Covid hospitalisations or deaths in people who got the Oxford vaccine."