Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to “extra successfully” immunize the planet, says the Lancet editor

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LONDON – The Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has a “distinct comparative advantage” over other leading candidates, according to the editor-in-chief of the medical journal The Lancet.

It comes shortly after the vaccine candidate, made in collaboration between Oxford University and UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, was found safe and effective in a peer-reviewed article.

The researchers confirmed Tuesday that the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate offers good protection against the disease. The data also seem to suggest that it can help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and prevent disease and death.

It’s one of several vaccines to seek regulatory approval, and the hope that a mass vaccination campaign could help end the coronavirus pandemic that killed over 1.55 million people worldwide.

“Oxford AstraZeneca’s vaccine is currently the vaccine that can immunize the planet more effectively and faster than any other vaccine we have,” Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, told CNBC’s Street Signs “Europe” on Wednesday.

Horton, a trained doctor himself, argued it was important to think about vaccine vaccinations on a global scale, “because even if we immunize one country, the risk is that you will reintroduce the virus from another country that is not protected. “

“That means you need a vaccine that can get into lower-middle-income countries,” Horton said. He added that it was “impractical” to launch a global vaccination campaign with a storage requirement of minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) allegedly related to the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

A Brazilian doctor will voluntarily receive an injection in July 2020 as part of phase 3 studies with a vaccine developed by Oxford University and the UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Nelson Almeida | AFP | Getty Images

In comparison, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerator temperature. It’s also cheaper than its counterparts, costing around $ 4 per dose.

Pfizer-BioNTech reportedly charges around $ 20 per dose for its coronavirus vaccine. Moderna has announced it will charge between $ 32 and $ 37 per dose, and Johnson & Johnson has announced that its candidate will cost around $ 10 per dose.

“So I think we need to look for approval, emergency approval for this vaccine in the next few weeks, and then scale up production to immunize the world,” said Horton.

“$ 100 Million Question”

The UK unveiled the first coronavirus vaccines to the public on Tuesday. Ninety-year-old Margaret Keenan made history as the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine outside of the trial conditions. The vaccine was approved by the UK Medicines Agency last week.

The vaccine against Oxford-AstraZeneca has yet to be approved by regulatory agencies around the world. The Medicines and Health Products regulator, the UK Medicines Agency, said Wednesday it would be evaluating the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine dosage regimens.

It comes after a study published in The Lancet showed that the vaccine was 62% effective for study participants on two full doses, but 90% for a smaller subgroup who received half a dose followed by a full dose.

When asked why the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was 90% effective on this dosage regimen, Horton replied, “Well, that’s the $ 100 million question.”

“This was unplanned, it was unexpected, but it could be a very important incidental finding. It is possible, and perhaps this is the most likely explanation, that giving a low dose of the vaccine early on the body does not increase an immune response to the vector because this is a virus vector vaccine. “

AstraZeneca’s sting is a vector viral vaccine based on a weakened version of a cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees. It is designed to prepare the immune system for the attack on the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.

“So when you give the second dose, the body doesn’t respond as strongly to this vector, so the vaccine is more effective at protecting against Covid-19,” Horton said.

He added that another clinical study would be needed to better understand the surprising finding.

“The data they have provided shows that this drug is highly effective, even though it is not as effective as we see it for the two mRNA vaccines,” Andrew Baum, global director of health at Citi, told Tuesday CNBC.

Unlike the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use messenger RNA or mRNA technology. It’s a new approach to vaccines that uses genetic material to trigger an immune response.

“Is it as clean as the Pfizer and Moderna data? No. But I think it plays an incredibly important role not only in Western European markets, but also in the less developed countries,” said Baum, referring to Oxford – AstraZeneca vaccine.

The cost, ease of manufacture, and lack of dedicated cold storage mean that “this is truly the only vaccine that will suppress or even eradicate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, millions of people in developing countries” said Baum.

– CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.

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