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Oxford vaccine team reports breakthrough

Professor Sarah Gilbert

Professor Sarah Gilbert, University of Oxford Jenner Institute

Interim data from phase three of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shows the vaccine is effective at preventing COVID-19 and offers a high-level of protection.

The vaccine, based on decades of in-depth research, supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and developed by University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, will save lives across the world.

The Oxford vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) is made from a virus, which is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus), that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans.

It has been shown to be effective, safe, easily distributed and administered, and available on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic.

Herculean achievement

Professor Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI said:

It’s a Herculean achievement in under a year and a tribute to the dedication of many people, from scientists and clinicians in universities and industry to the trial volunteers, who have come together to deliver this promising vaccine with tremendous speed.

These preliminary phase three results show the Oxford-led COVID-19 vaccine could be more effective against coronavirus than typical vaccines against seasonal flu, but more study is needed to understand dosing and the protective response from the vaccine.

We are proud to have supported this promising and inexpensive vaccine, which could be easily distributed at fridge temperature and administered by healthcare systems worldwide.

The Oxford-led vaccine team are among the first in the world trialing a vaccine because, before this pandemic when coronaviruses were only one of many possible epidemic threats, the UK government invested in their vaccine research and development.

70.4% effective

Over 24,000 people have been involved in the trial so far in the UK, Brazil and South Africa to ensure results are valid for different regions of the world and for different ethnic groups.

The vaccine is 70.4% effective when combining data from two dosing regimens. There are early indications that the vaccine could reduce virus transmission.

Critically, the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature (2 to 8°C), be easily administered in existing healthcare systems and distributed using existing logistics.

Multinational effort

Further trials are continuing in the United States, Kenya, Japan and India and researchers expect to have over 60,000 participants in the trials by the end of the year.

AstraZeneca has agreements in place to supply three billion doses of the vaccine, which will be available to people around the world in 2021.

Large scale manufacturing is ongoing in over 10 countries to support equitable global access.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said:

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 SARS-CoV-2.

We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said:

Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency.

Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.

For more information, visit: The Oxford Vaccine (Research at Oxford).

During the study, participants who received the vaccine had detectable neutralising antibodies, which have been suggested by researchers as important for protection.

These responses were strongest after a booster dose, with 100% of participants’ blood having neutralising activity against the coronavirus.

Last updated: 27 November 2020

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