Five things to know about the highly anticipated AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine

Inexpensive, easy to store …: five things to know about the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, cleared by India on Sunday, after the UK and Argentina on Wednesday. It will be administered from Monday on British soil.

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The AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine has the advantage of being inexpensive (around 2.50 euros per dose).

It is also easy to store: it can be stored at a refrigerator temperature, between two and eight degrees Celsius, unlike the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech which can only be stored long term at very low temperatures. temperature (-20 ° Celsius for the first, -70 ° C for the second).

This facilitates large-scale vaccination.

According to the chief executive of AstraZeneca, the vaccine is able to fight the new variant of the coronavirus, responsible for an outbreak of cases in the United Kingdom.

Against this mutation, “we believe for the moment that the vaccine should remain effective,” Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times last weekend. “But we can’t be sure so we’ll do some testing.”

He assured that new versions were prepared just in case, while hoping not to need them: “You have to be prepared”.

This vaccine was developed by the British group AstraZeneca with the University of Oxford. It is the second vaccine to have been approved by the MHRA, the British regulator, after that of Pfizer / BioNTech deployed in the United Kingdom since December 8 and administered to more than a million people.

One of the most bereaved countries in Europe with more than 74,500 dead, the United Kingdom has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, of which several tens of millions will be available by the end of March. Vaccinations will begin Monday, with 530,000 doses available.

India’s green light will also help kick off a vast vaccination campaign in this country where nearly 150,000 people have died from COVID-19. India is the second country most affected by the pandemic, with more than 10.3 million people infected.

AstraZeneca says it is capable of manufacturing some three billion doses of its vaccine around the world in 2021.

The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is a “viral vector” vaccine: it takes as a carrier another virus (a chimpanzee adenovirus) which has been transformed and adapted to fight COVID-19.

It is the first vaccine whose efficacy results have been validated by a scientific journal, The Lancet, on December 8. According to data published by The Lancet, AstraZeneca’s vaccine “is safe”.

Side effects of the virus are extremely rare at this stage.

Of the 23,754 volunteers who took part in the trials, only one patient who received this vaccine experienced a “serious side effect likely to be related” to this injection, according to data published in The Lancet.

It was a case of transverse myelitis (a rare neurological impairment) which had motivated the temporary interruption of the trial in early September.

In the interim results of clinical trials, the British laboratory announced in November that its vaccine was on average 70% effective against more than 90% for those of Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.

The efficacy of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine is 90% for the volunteers who first received a half dose, then a full dose a month later, but only 62% for another group which was however more vaccinated. with two full doses one month apart.

The half-dose injection was actually due to an error and only a small group had followed the second protocol, which raised criticism and concern, prompting the company to announce on November 26 that a ” additional study ”to verify these results.

“We think that we have found the winning formula and how to achieve an efficiency which, with two doses, is high like that of the others”, assured the managing director of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot.

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