AstraZeneca vaccine advantages list: it has preliminary data on efficacy in asymptomatics and is more prepared for the challenges of distribution: The COVID-19 vaccine from the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and AstraZeneca prevents 70,4% of new infections with COVID-19, as the company and the University have announced in a statement.
The study will continue to monitor and accumulate data relating to the vaccine, but AstraZeneca will immediately prepare the regulatory submission of the data to authorities around the world that have an established framework for conditional or early approval of the vaccine.
Although the results are very hopeful, it should be borne in mind that they have been communicated through a company statement and not through a peer-reviewed scientific publication.
"The press releases communicate a preliminary result because the phases are not completed," warned researcher Mercedes Jiménez Sarmiento, a scientist at the Margarita Salas Biological Research Center (CIB Margarita Salas) of the Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC), in a recent interview.
The scientist recalls that it is the health authorities who will approve the use of the vaccine and will do so by analyzing the data that have not yet been made public.
Jiménez Sarmiento explains that the tests carried out by Pfizer and Moderna are "double-blind". That is, those in which there is a placebo control arm and in which neither the participants of the trial nor the organizers know who is receiving the vaccine or not.
Volunteers are asked to live normal lives and only when they have been infected is it checked whether they have received the placebo or the vaccine.
AstraZeneca vaccine advantages list
"The first primary objective analysis is based on 170 cases of COVID-19, as specified in the study protocol, of which 162 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 8 cases in the BNT162b2 group," Pfizer explains in its statement.
However, there is one small detail that prevents drawing conclusions about the real ability of vaccines to curb the pandemic: their effectiveness is unknown among asymptomatics.
"Effectiveness will be assessed throughout the participant's participation in the study by monitoring possible COVID-19 cases. If, at any time, a participant develops an acute respiratory disease, for the purposes of the study they will be considered to potentially have COVID-19 disease," explains the design of the Pfizer study.
It is in that case when the patient will be performed a diagnostic test that confirms or rules out the presence of COVID-19. That is, confirmed cases of coronavirus have only included symptomatic patients, but symptomatic ones have been shown to play an important role in the spread of the virus.
"Efficacy figures are measured for symptomatic coronavirus cases. Participants in the vaccine trial are not taken at regular intervals to check if they have tested positive, even if they are symptomatic, " also warns Science expert Derek Lowe. "We can get controlled data of that kind eventually," Lowe assures, but they have not yet been offered.
However, it seems that AstraZeneca (whose trial is also double-blind) is indeed monitoring possible asymptomatic cases and preliminary data suggest hopeful results.
"These data also suggest that this half-dose and full-dose regimen could help prevent transmission of the virus, which is evidenced in lower rates of asymptomatic infection in vaccinated, and more information will be available in the upcoming evaluation of trial data," the statement from the University of Oxford says.
The efficiency seems lower than that of its rivals, since Pfizer and Moderna have announced an efficiency of 94.5% and 95%.
However, the AstraZeneca vaccine could approach the figure, as the company has assured that when administered in a half-dose regimen and then a full dose, it reaches 90% effectiveness.
"These figures show that the vaccine in the right dose can be up to 90% effective," said British health secretary Matt Hancock.
That finding is also good news because it implies that more people will be able to be vaccinated with the current dose reserves.
"These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. We have found that one of our dosing regimens can be around 90% effective and if this dosing regimen is used, more people could be vaccinated with the scheduled supply of the vaccine," Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and lead researcher of the Oxford Vaccine trial, said in the statement.
Finally, AstraZeneca's vaccine has less stringent storage requirements than Pfizer's, which has to be kept at 70 degrees below zero. The World Health Organization has warned that no country is prepared for the storage and transport of this vaccine.
The modern vaccine, meanwhile, can stay under standard cooling temperatures for a month and then would require a temperature of 20 degrees below zero.
"Adenovirus-based vaccines have been extensively researched and used for decades and have the important advantage that they are stable, easy to manufacture, transport and store at home refrigerator temperature (2-8 degrees C). This means that they can be easily distributed using existing medical facilities, such as medical consultations and local pharmacies, allowing the vaccine, if approved, to be deployed very quickly," notes the University of Oxford.
In addition, the company is the one that most agreements had been closed with the government for the supply of doses: united States (300 million doses), European Union (300 million doses, with the possibility of acquiring other 100), Canada (20 million doses), India (400 million doses licenciables to other countries), the Uk (100 million doses), Japan (100 million doses), and Australia (to 33.8 million doses).
"The vaccine's simple supply chain and our non-profit commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and available globally, delivering hundreds of millions of doses with approval," said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca.
The company has decided that it will sell the vaccine at a cost price-between 2.5 euros and 3 euros-while the pandemic lasts, although the fact that the pharmaceutical company itself has set the summer of 2021 as a final date has caused controversy.
AstraZeneca vaccine advantages list
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Priority groups and phases of the coronavirus vaccination plan in Spain: seniors in residences, health care and dependents will receive the first doses
As more companies announce the promising results of their clinical trials that suggest we could have vaccine with high efficacy, governments are starting to move to vaccinate their population as soon as possible.
In this line, Spain is one of the first countries to develop a vaccination plan and has already defined that vaccination will be done in three stages, starting in January, which will prioritize certain groups while the supply is limited.
This was detailed in the press conference by the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, in which he appeared with the Minister of Finance and government spokesman, María Jesús Montero, the Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, after the Council of Ministers.
"We estimate that we will receive 140 million doses, more than the population we have," he said. However, not all of them will arrive at once. "In a first stage there will be a very limited supply, "warned Illa, who has assured that this forces to prioritize administration to certain groups and hopes to immunize a" substantial part " of the most vulnerable population in the first half of the year.
The first stage will last until March, while in the second stage an increase in vaccines available between March and June is expected and Salvador Illa has enough doses to cover all groups in a third stage from June. "There will be doses to vaccinate 100% of the Spanish population if everything goes well," said the minister.
The minister estimates that there are around four million people who make up the collective that will be vaccinated in the first stage and has insisted that the prioritization has been done based on scientific criteria and within an ethical framework. However, it has not revealed which collectives will be the next to be vaccinated after completing the first stage.
Once the availability of doses of the vaccine or vaccines authorized and acquired by the Ministry of Health is known, it will be agreed in the plenary of the CISNS, after discussion in the presentation of vaccines and registration of vaccinations and in the Public Health Commission, the final prioritization of vaccination to certain population groups, assure from the ministry.
The vaccination strategy has been designed by a multidisciplinary group of experts from different administrations and will be the same for the entire territory, as Salvador Illa recalled, and its objective is to prepare the health system so that it is ready to distribute vaccines as soon as they arrive.
According to what was already known until now, the first vaccines against coronavirus will arrive in our country at the end of this year or the beginning of the next and the vaccination campaign is expected to begin in January.
The distribution of the vaccine will be carried out by the government, which will work in collaboration with the autonomous communities, to ensure equal access throughout the territory to the prioritized groups.