AstraZeneca Plc said Wednesday that its coronavirus vaccine was 76 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness in a clinical trial, slightly lowering the rate after facing questions in the United States over its data.
The firm said its vaccine also has 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation due to coronavirus and is 85% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in patients aged 65 years and over. That compares with an earlier estimate of 79%, which was based on data gathered through February 17.
Although AstraZeneca's vaccine has been authorized for use in more than 50 countries, including Canada, it has not yet been given the green light in the U.S.
"A lot of us were waiting for this large, well-constructed and reported Phase III study", said Paul Griffin, a professor at the University of Queensland. "But it's so important for us to be completely transparent and accurate because we are building public trust".
The ongoing drama surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford took another turn late Wednesday when the drugmaker released updated information about its effectiveness. The company didn't disclose how many of those infections occurred in the group that received the vaccine and how many in the one administered a placebo.
AstraZeneca cautioned that 14 additional possible cases already are being examined, which could lead to further changes in the data.
Astra shares were little changed in London trading.
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He said the company looks forward to "the rollout of millions of doses across America".
Some of Astra's challenges reflect the unprecedented urgency of COVID-19 vaccine development, in which years-long processes have been compressed into several months. "I don't think it's malicious, it just reflects trying to get a vaccine out in the middle of a pandemic".
"The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data", the NIAID, which has helped AstraZeneca run trials in the US, said. The company responded by saying it would soon release fresh estimates.
While other companies are set to make billions from their Covid vaccines, AstraZeneca is producing theirs at cost throughout the pandemic.
However, the European Medicines Agency, the European Union's drug approval body, has said the vaccine is safe and does not raise the overall risk of blood clots.
The U.S. trial data was seen as important because earlier research conducted in the United Kingdom and Brazil sowed confusion by producing two different efficacy readings.
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American officials question AstraZeneca’s vaccine results
That's what happened to the AstraZeneca trial in September after a study participant developed neurological symptoms, for example. In a statement, AstraZeneca emphasized that blood clots in general are no more common among people who have received its vaccine.
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