Achieving a major milestone against coronavirus, Swedish-British multinational pharmaceutical AstraZeneca, and Oxford University have said their coronavirus vaccine candidate, which achieved 70 per cent efficacy during interim trial result analysis, can be stored at domestic fridge temperature. Indian vaccine giant Serum Institute of India (SII) has also partnered with the Oxford University and AstraZeneca to produce their vaccine candidate on much bigger level.
"The vaccine can be easily administered in existing healthcare systems, stored at 'fridge temperature' (2-8 degree C) and distributed using existing logistics," Oxford University said in a statement. The vaccine has proved to be effective at preventing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and offers a high level of protection, it added.
The vaccine candidate -- named ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019 -- can be easily manufactured, transported and stored at domestic fridge temperature (2-8 degrees C). "This means they can be easily distributed using existing medical facilities such as doctor's surgeries and local pharmacies, allowing for the vaccine, if approved, to be deployed very rapidly," the statement said.
The interim analysis of phase 3 clinical trials involved 131 Covid-19 cases, in which it was found that the vaccine is 70.4 percent effective. In the two different dose regimens, the vaccine efficacy was 90 per cent in one and 62 per cent in the other. "Higher efficacy regime used a halved first dose and standard second dose," said the Oxford vaccine.
During the late stage trials, no hospitalisation or severe reactions were observed among those who received the shots. The university has said that large scale manufacturing is going on in over 10 countries to produce the vaccine on a mass level.
'These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we've found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply," said Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said that today's announcement takes the world one more step closer to the vaccine to end the devastation caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Following the trial reaching the target for interim analysis, the team at Oxford will conduct its first analysis on all the cases. In parallel, Oxford will also submit the full analysis of the Phase III interim data for independent scientific peer review and publication.
The clinical trials, enrolling over 24,000 participants from diverse racial and geographical groups in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, will now continue to final analysis. Further trials are being conducted in the United States, Kenya, Japan and India. The trial team expects to have under 60,000 participants by the end of the year.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla has also said he's delighted to hear that, Covishield, will offer protection up to 90% in one type of dosage regime and 62% in the other dosage regime.
Why is temperature important?
The vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature, which is a big boost to AstraZeneca's mass distribution plans. The ability to store at fridge temperature will allow it to be transported using existing infrastructure only, which will help countries distribute the vaccine at much faster speed.
Notably, Moderna and Pfizer's vaccine candidates, which have shown very high efficacy levels of 94.5 percent 95 percent, respectively, require -20 to -70 degree Celsius and -70 degree Celsius temperatures to store. This will be a key factor in determining the global reach of these vaccines.
About the Oxford vaccine
The Oxford vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) is made from a virus, which is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus), that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans. Adenovirus vaccines have been researched and used extensively for decades and have the significant benefit that they are stable, easily manufactured, transported and stored at domestic fridge temperature (2-8 degrees C).