Oxford vaccine: third effective corona vaccine
There is again good news about the vaccines against corona: the Oxford vaccine from AstraZeneca also offers protection against the virus. In the right dose, it is 90 percent effective. This is the third vaccine closer to the finish line. It is easier to administer, even to people who cannot come to the doctor due to illness or disabilities.
The company reports the results in a press release. Of the 23,000 participants in the study, half received a placebo (saline solution) and the other half the Oxford vaccine. Of the 23,000 participants, 131 people got corona, of whom apparently 70 percent were in the placebo group, although the exact numbers have not yet been announced. With an adjusted dose (first half a dose, then a whole dose) the effectiveness was higher: 90 percent. Pfizer and Moderna reported 95 percent effectiveness, also based on 100-200 people out of tens of thousands of participants.
Again, the research data has not yet been published or peer-reviewed. The results will be published in medical journals in the coming weeks. Did the vaccine work equally well in all age groups, including the elderly or sick, who will be the first to be vaccinated? We can expect little certainty about this. In the study, only a hundred people got corona out of tens of thousands of participants. So whether it works better in people over 60 or people with heart disease is far from certain. What the researchers do report is that the Oxford vaccine not only protects against mild and severe covid but also prevents the spread of the virus.
We will get more certainty about the side effects. Half of the 23,000 participants have been exposed to this. They are compared with a similar group of people who have been given a placebo. These side effects will not be very serious, because that would have been a reason to stop the study. Research into the Oxford vaccine was previously halted due to a side effect, but it turned out to be unrelated to the vaccine. The investigation was then resumed.
Just in the fridge
The effectiveness of the Oxford vaccine seems lower, but it still has benefits. The Oxford vaccine is a vaccine based on a weakened cold virus from chimpanzees. That is a different mechanism than the RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, and therefore offers extra choice. Another advantage of the Oxford vaccine over the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is that it is available in larger quantities, cheaper, and keeps in the fridge. The vaccines do not have to be stored in extreme colds, like the RNA vaccines. They can therefore be given more easily in people’s homes, which makes the vaccine more suitable for administering to people who have difficulty walking or who cannot go to the doctor due to illness.
The Netherlands has purchased six vaccines on a large scale and three of these are now indeed effective. Yet we cannot yet go to the doctor for a shot, because the vaccines must first be approved by the European medicine agency EMA. The other three vaccines are the Janssen vaccine, which was developed in Leiden, the French vaccine from Sanofi/GSK, and the CureVac vaccine, also an RNA vaccine.