Oxford-AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine developers are extremely hopeful about the efficacy of the shot amid cases of the new virus variant being confirmed by healthcare officials in Canada, Japan and several European countries.
Pascal Soriot, the boss of AstraZeneca, told Sunday Times that he believes researchers have found the "winning formula" using two doses. According to him, UK regulators could approve the vaccine within days. The claim came at a time when Canada became the latest country to identify cases of the new variant, which was first detected in the UK and has since spread to several countries.
While praising the vaccine efforts UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "There will be tough days and months ahead, but there are reasons to look ahead to a brighter future and what 2021 promises." He also added that the early roll-out of the vaccines and the incredible work by the scientists and the NHS means that "we can now see light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic."
Oxford-Astrazeneca Vaccine Against New Variant
The Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed the first two cases of the new Coronavirus variant on Saturday evening, December 26 in the province of Ontario. On the same day, officials in Japan said that the country would close its border to all non-resident foreign nationals from midnight Monday, December 28 till January 31, after seven individuals tested positive for the new variant.
Meanwhile, Madrid's regional government said that four people were found to have been infected with the new variant. Sweden's Public Health Agency also announced that the new variant of Coronavirus had been identified in a newly returned traveler from the UK. The French health ministry said on Friday, December 25, that they detected the first case of infection by the new variant on its soil.
"Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic," tweeted Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President. "So far, we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can't be sure, so we're going to test that," said AstraZeneca's chief Soriot.
UK government has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and as per the reports, almost 40 million doses will be available by the end of March. The Coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out from January 4. "The medicines regulator is reviewing the final data from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca phase three clinical trials to determine whether the vaccine meets their strict standards of quality, safety, and effectiveness," a government spokesperson said.
While there are some concerns that the vaccine may not be as good as other COVID-19 vaccines in terms of preventing symptomatic disease, Soriot said: "We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else. I can't tell you more because we will publish at some point."