By Naadiya Adams
Developed with Oxford University and based on two regimens, the vaccine shows an average efficacy of 70%.
The first involving two full doses at least a month apart proving to be 62% effective. A second regimen, involving a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month later, was 90% effective, the company said.
The Phase 3 clinical trials are based on 131 coronavirus infections in Britain and Brazil among nearly 23,000 volunteers, with half receiving the vaccine and half getting a placebo.
The results are a triumph but come after Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed 95% protection.
However, the Oxford injection is far cheaper, and can be stored a lot easier while getting to every corner of the world than the other two.
Government in the UK has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and AstraZeneca says it will make three billion doses for the world next year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “incredibly exciting news” and that while there were still safety checks to come, “these are fantastic results,” adding that people most in need of a vaccination in the UK might be able to get one by Easter.
But where does that leave South Africa in the race to obtain a COVID19 vaccine?
At a ministerial level, discussions are underway to secure vaccines for the country, but Co-director of South Africa’s COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Council, Professor Salim Abdool Karim says “The news of the vaccines has come fast,” they thought they had a whole year to acquire and draft a vaccine distribution plan.
Wealthier countries have already pre-procured large orders of the vaccines that will be available, however the Bill and Melinda Foundation have been very progressive with the COVAX programme in negotiating prices and ensuring equitable distribution for developing countries. And while AstraZeneca presents new opportunities, Karim says we will likely only get a vaccine in South Africa by mid-2021.