A coronavirus vaccine developed in the UK can prevent 70.4% of people from getting Covid-19 and up to 90% if a lower dose is used, according to data.
Oxford University and AstraZeneca have announced their jab is effective in preventing many people getting ill and it has been shown to work in different age groups, including the elderly. There are early indications it might also help stop the spread of the disease.
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 [Covid-19].
“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.”
Oxford University said interim analysis from its phase 3 vaccine trial showed that the efficacy of their vaccine is 70%. But that came from combining the results of two different dosing regimes, one of which was 90% and the other was 62%. The 90% regime involved a half-dose first and then a full dose of the vaccine later. The interim analysis was based on 131 infections among participants who received the vaccine and those in a control group who were given an established meningitis shot.
In a statement, Prof Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply.
“Today’s announcement is only possible thanks to the many volunteers in our trial, and the hard-working and talented team of researchers based around the world.”
He said that if people were first given a half-dose of the Oxford vaccine followed by a full dose a month later, they had 90% protection.
“There is just a hint in the data at the moment that those who got that regime with higher protection, there is a suggestion that it was also able to reduce asymptomatic infection,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “If that is right, we might be able to halt the virus in its tracks and stop transmitting between people.”
His colleague, Prof 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.”
AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, 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.”
The UK has placed orders for 100m doses of the Oxford vaccine – enough to vaccinate most of the population – with rollout expected in the coming weeks if the jab is approved.
It also has orders for 40m doses of a jab from Pfizer and BioNTech, which has been shown to have 95% efficacy. Another jab from Moderna has 95% efficacy, according to trial data.
Australia has ordered 33.8m doses of the vaccine.
The UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, called the data “really encouraging news”, but stressed that vaccines needed to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
“This is really encouraging news on the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, that obviously we’ve been backing since the start,” he told Sky News. “And I’m really very pleased, really welcome these figures, this data, that show that the vaccine in the right dosage can be up to 90% effective.
“Of course, it’s vital that the independent regulator, the MHRA, will need to look at the data, will need to check to make sure that it’s effective and safe of course. But we’ve got 100m doses on order and should all that go well, the bulk of the rollout will be in the new year.”
He added: “And of course this vaccine, this homegrown vaccine, is easier to administer as well than the Pfizer vaccine, because it doesn’t need to be stored at -70. So having two vaccines that appear to have effectiveness, done right, in the 90% range is really, really good news.”
Boris Johnson said: “Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results. Well done to our brilliant scientists at UniofOxford & AstraZeneca, and all who volunteered in the trials.”
The business secretary, Alok Sharma, said the results of an interim analysis of the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vacccine candidate were “very promising”.
He tweeted: “Very promising data from the Oxford/AstraZeneca Phase III clinical trials. We are on the cusp of a huge scientific breakthrough that could protect millions of lives. The UK has secured early access to 100m doses of their vaccine – on top of 255m doses from other developers.”