Researchers at Britain’s Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca published a study Tuesday showing their COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be “safe and effective” at fighting the virus.
The peer-reviewed study was published Tuesday in the British medical journal The Lancet. The data showed the drug had an overall efficacy rate of 70.4%, higher than the 50% minimum set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Pftizer/BioNTech vaccine currently being administered in Britain, and the Moderna candidate under review for emergency authorization in the United States and Europe, have efficacy rates of over 90%. But the Oxford/AstraZeneca drug would be cheaper and easier to distribute than those other candidates.
It is yet to be determined how effectively the vaccine might help protect those over 55, as only 12% of the 11,636 tested for protection efficacy were 56 or older.
In an interview with reporters, Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the difference in efficacy rates among the vaccines currently being reviewed will make little difference in the long term. He said what is important is getting vaccines to people and that they are protected.
Pollard said the best way to do that is to have multiple vaccines available.
“I think we have to not worry about these individual percentages. The important thing is who's vaccinated, not people who are unvaccinated and waiting for a particular product. Personally, I'd be happy with any of these in my arm."
Pollard said that is why accessibility is a priority for Oxford/AstraZeneca. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, their vaccine does not need to be kept at sub-freezing temperatures.
He said even as regulators scrutinize the data concerning the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, it is already in production.
“Manufacturing is happening in all corners of the world, and to make sure that if we do have products which can be used, that they can then be distributed where they're needed using fridge temperatures to get them to the most vulnerable people in our societies."