NEW DELHI: In a positive development for India, Oxford-AstraZeneca on Monday announced that its vaccine against the novel coronavirus could be around 90% effective without any serious side effects.
“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against Covid-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” Pascal Soriot, Astra’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The vaccine developed by Oxford University was 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 when it was administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart, according to data from the late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil.
Another dosing regimen showed 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart, and the combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70%.
Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety check… https://t.co/yThliyInIA
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) 1606117502000
The encouraging results are expected to come as a shot in the arm for India as it is counting on the low-cost Oxford vaccine to inoculate a majority of its population.
The Oxford candidate is being manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India, which is looking to deliver the first of 100 million doses to healthcare workers and the elderly by January next year.
Reacting to the announcement, Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla said he is delighted to hear that Covishield – the local name of the vaccine – will soon be widely available.
“I am delighted to hear that, Covishield, a low-cost, logistically manageable & soon to be widely available, #COVID19 vaccine, will offer protection up to 90% in one type of dosage regime and 62% in the other dosage regime. Further details on this, will be provided this evening,” Poonawalla said on Twitter.
The vaccine holds significant advantage over candidates like Moderna and Pfizer — which were also found over 90% effective — in terms of cost and storage.
Poonawalla recently said the vaccine will be priced at a maximum of Rs 1,000, which is just a fraction of the expected price tag of vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer.
Moreover, the jab can be kept at refrigerator temperatures, while those from Pfizer and Moderna, based on novel messenger RNA technology, require freezing for longer-term storage and transport.
The Oxford University vaccine is based on a harmless, weakened version of a common cold virus, or adenovirus, that causes infections in chimpanzees. The vector (the carrier) is derived from adenovirus (ChAdOx1) taken from chimpanzees. It is genetically engineered so that it does not replicate in humans.