AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine might be approved within days

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AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine is on track to be approved by the New Year, one of the people involved told the BBC today.

John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, added that he also had no concerns over the drug, saying that the data from trials of the new vaccine was looking ‘better than ever’.

Bell was speaking ahead of an update of a review of the drug by UK’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, which is undertaking a full review to determine the most appropriate dosage to use.

Initial results from the Astra/Oxford trial sparked a wave of commentary when the study revealed an efficacy of 62% for trial participants given two full doses, but 90% for a smaller sub-group given a half treatment followed by a full dose.

In the interview today, Bell said: “I would expect some news pretty shortly, I doubt we will make Christmas now but just after Christmas I would expect.”

He said that it took about three weeks for the Pfizer/BioNTech to be approved and it would be a similar timeline from when it gave the data to the MHRA.

The UK government has already ordered 100mln doses of the Astra/Oxford vaccine, which is far easier to store and make than the Pfizer jab.

Manufacturing will also take place in the UK avoiding worries over supply that have arisen due to the disruption at UK ports in recent days.

Separately, Astra said the vaccine should also be effective against the new strain of coronavirus identified in the UK recently.

“AZD1222 (the candidate) contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein, and the changes to the genetic code seen in this new viral strain do not appear to change the structure of the spike protein,” the FTSE 100 firm told Reuters late on Tuesday.

“Through vaccination with AZD1222, the body’s immune system is trained to recognise many different parts of the spike protein, so that it can eliminate the virus if it is later exposed.”

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