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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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AstraZeneca: Vaccine will be effective against COVID-19 variant

AstraZeneca manufacturing error clouds vaccine study results
Posted at 2:12 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 14:12:54-05

(WXYZ) — Drugmaker AstraZeneca says their vaccine will be effective against the new coronavirus strain that is surging in Britain.

I can see why there is some confusion because AstraZeneca tested two different regimens – meaning two separate groups of participants received different doses of the vaccine. One group was given two full doses and early trial data showed that this regimen had a 62% efficacy rate. While the other group was given a half dose shot first, followed by a full dose. And this particular regimen was found to be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. While this sounds fantastic, there are some concerns. Number one is the latter group was a smaller sub-group. So not as many people. And secondly, clinical trial records indicate that the half dose was not tested on anyone over the age of 55. This is not good since the older you are, the higher your risk of developing severe illness.

AstraZeneca’s chief executive has said that researchers have figured out a “winning formula” which would make their shot just as effective as Pfizer and Moderna’s…meaning 95% effective…would this have anything to do with their vaccine being effective against the new strain in Britain?

That’s a great question, however AstraZeneca has not provided any details about this “winning formula”. But they are planning to publish more data so I think we’ll hear more about this very soon. As for their candidate’s ability to effectively prevent illness from the new coronavirus strain in Britain, I believe it boils down to the actual genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. This spike protein is a part of their vaccine candidate. And AstraZeneca has said that the changes in the new strain do not “appear to change the structure of the spike protein”. So when you get vaccinated, the immune system should still be able to recognize all the parts that make up the spike protein and be able to kill it off. Having said that, the drugmaker does plan to do tests to confirm this.

Have we heard anything new regarding if this strain is in fact more contagious?

Research here in the US is still in the early stages regarding these new strains. But Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that yes, it does appear that they may be more transmissible. Now, while most of these cases are in Britain and South Africa, other countries are beginning to report cases. And not to alarm anyone but it’s likely we’ll see some cases here in the US because of international travel. Having said that, there has been no evidence of either strain here so far. But it’s imperative that we continue to be vigilant and follow COVID-19 safety protocols - like wearing a mask, washing or sanitizing your hands, wiping down frequently touched surfaces, and keeping 6 feet away from people not in your household.

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