The results of Pfizer and Moderna have already shown the light of hope and now the results of a large-scale trial of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidates have been welcomed by the healthcare experts and the government.
Professor Chris Whitty, UK's chief medical officer tweeted that it was a "very encouraging step forward" and in the same tweet, he thanked those who volunteered and the researchers around the world.
After the news came out, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, "Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results."
The Oxford vaccine was revealed to be 70 percent effective against the Coronavirus, but as per researchers, it can be up to 90 percent effective when one-half dose is administrated followed by a full dose at least one month apart.
UK Ready to Vaccinate
The UK has placed orders for 100 million vaccine doses that will be enough to immunize most of the population if it gets approval. Matt Hancock, UK health secretary said life in the country could return to normal after Easter.
The UK government has also ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is claimed to be 95 percent effective. The country has also ordered 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine which is 94.5 percent effective.
Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford said after the Oxford vaccine announcement that "This is very welcome news, we can clearly see the end of the tunnel now."
He said that there were no COVID-19 related hospitalization or deaths in people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. "Importantly, from what we have heard the vaccine seems to prevent infection, not just disease," said Prof Horby while adding that this is important as the vaccine could reduce the spread of the novel Coronavirus as well as protect vulnerable people from severe disease.
He also pointed out that the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge, unlike the Pfizer jab, making it a more practical solution for use globally.
A member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) noted that the latest vaccine news could suggest that the social distancing restrictions would be eased by spring.
Scientists Are Hopeful
Dr. Michael Tildesley, associate professor in infectious disease modeling at the University of Warwick said there were some great news about three different vaccines over the past three weeks. "I would say I'm more hopeful that by the spring we might be starting to ease out of these restrictions," he added.
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London said that these trial results of the vaccines are "impressive" and add to optimism that vaccination can help to prevent COVID-19. According to him, the report that an initial half-dose of a vaccine is better than a full dose "seem counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: with drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects [more side-effects], but the immune system does not work like that".
The report about instead of full doses an initial half-dose is better "is great news," and this can help to increase the number of people who seek vaccination and reduce the cost.
Since the Oxford vaccine doesn't need ultra-low temperatures like the Pfizer vaccine candidates, it is good news for those countries where such storage facilities are not available. "The pandemic is everyone's problem at least until the vast majority of the globe is vaccinated, not just the rich countries," said Dr. Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton.
Professor Andrew Pollard who is the chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial at Oxford sad the recent findings show that now "we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives". The Oxford vaccine could start to be rolled out in the UK from December with the bulk of vaccination in 2021.