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Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has 'winning formula', says AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot

Soriot said, "We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else"

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | December 28, 2020 | Updated 21:32 IST
Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has 'winning formula', says AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot
AstraZeneca's vaccine also benefits from a logistical advantage over the Pfizer-BioNTech alternative

British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine has achieved a "winning formula" for efficacy, Pascal Soriot, CEO of the company said. Currently, the vaccine is being evaluated by Britain's independent medicines regulator and provides "100 per cent protection" against severe COVID disease requiring hospitalisation.

Soriot believes trials will show that AstraZeneca has achieved a vaccine efficacy equal to Pfizer-BioNTech at 95 per cent and Moderna at 94.5 per cent, in an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper.

He said, "We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else." The CEO added that data would be published at "some point".

UK government, on December 23, announced that the developers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine had submitted their data to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Approval is likely to be granted on Monday to roll out the jab.

The Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID vaccine was the first one to be authorised for use by the UK's independent medicines regulator and has been given to 6,00,000 people since last month.

AstraZeneca shot's efficacy in earlier trials had varying outcomes and showed an average of 70 per cent effectiveness but later jumped to 90 per cent depending on the dosage.

However, the vaccine was found to have 90 per cent efficacy on volunteers who received a half-dose first and then a full dose one month later. Soriot said he was "surprised" by the initial findings. He added, "We would have preferred a simpler set of results."

The lack of transparency and clarity over the discrepancy in the results was widely criticised. Soriot responded by saying that he had not expected the pushback that followed. He said, "We assumed people would be a bit disappointed, that's for sure." "But we didn't expect that storm".

Great hopes have been placed in the AstraZeneca shot because of its low cost as it was originally based on a weakened version of a chimpanzee virus.

AstraZeneca's vaccine also benefits from a logistical advantage over the Pfizer-BioNTech alternative, as it can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions of between two and eight degrees Celsius for at least six months. On the other hand, Pfizer-BioNTech's candidate needs to be stored at around -70 Celsius.

Britain government has already ordered 100 million doses in confidence for its homegrown vaccine as the bulk of 's requirements are expected to be met by the jab. Close to 40 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine are scheduled to be available by the end of March.

So far, the UK has been one of the countries that are most affected by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 70,000 deaths.

Around 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine would be made available before the end of 2020, said the UK drug manufacturer. It added that more than 700 million doses are likely to be available globally by the end of March next year.

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