Europe’s former chief drugs regulator has called for calm in the growing controversy over claims made by AstraZeneca and Oxford university for their Covid-19 vaccine in late-stage trials, - the Financial Times reports.
Accoridng to the FT, the Anglo-Swedish drugs company and Oxford’s Jenner Institute revealed earlier this week that, depending on the dosage, their vaccine was either 62 or 90 per cent effective. However, what they did not initially point out was that the higher efficacy rate applied only to a small sample of patients aged 55 or less, or that it had come about seemingly by mistake.
Regulators and the rest of the world will soon have the full data. The Oxford academics who developed the vaccine have submitted a paper setting out their full Phase 3 results to The Lancet medical journal. They will be working over the weekend to answer questions from the journal and its referees and the article could be published as early as Thursday.
In the meantime, however, questions will continue to circulate about how AstraZeneca, one of the world’s most successful drugs companies, and Oxford university found their credibility under fire.
After all, the Oxford vaccine, even if confirmed as less effective, will still be crucial to fighting the virus in developing countries, say experts. Not only has AstraZeneca promised to make no profit from it during the pandemic, but the vaccine is easier to store and transport than the two other most advanced candidates from the Pfizer/BioNTech partnership and from Moderna. These may have higher efficacy rates of 90 per cent or more, but they have to be stored at temperatures well below zero.
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