Dipesh Sonar and Nisha Gill speak to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Oxford Biomedica’s quality control laboratory, where batches of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are being tested, on January 18, 2021 in Oxford, UK.
Heathcliff O’Malley | Reuters
LONDON – The coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford shows the same efficiency as previous variants compared to the Covid variant first discovered in the UK, according to new data on Friday.
The variant known as B.1.1.7 has an unusually high number of mutations and is associated with more efficient and faster transmission. There is also evidence that this variant of Covid could be more deadly than the original strain.
“Data from our trials of the ChAdOx1 vaccine in the UK show that the vaccine not only protects against the original pandemic virus, but also against the novel variant B.1.1.7, which caused the increase in the disease across the board from the end of 2020 UK, “Andrew Pollard, lead investigator for the Oxford vaccine study, said in an announcement Friday.
The results have not yet been reviewed by experts. They also describe recent analysis showing that the AstraZeneca vaccine can reduce the transmission of the disease.
Scientists first discovered this Covid mutation in September in south-east England. It has since been found in at least 44 countries, including the United States
In January, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the US variant’s modeled trajectory “is growing rapidly in early 2021 and will become the dominant variant in March”.
The AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine was found to be 76% effective at preventing symptomatic infection for three months after a single dose, and the rate of effectiveness increased with a longer interval between the first and second dose.
Reduction in transmission
Another study released Tuesday also provided key data on whether the AstraZeneca vaccine will reduce transmission of the virus, a previously unknown and crucial question for policy makers looking to lift measures to lock down the economy. Based on weekly swabs from volunteers in the UK study, a 67% reduction in transmission was found after the first dose of the vaccine.
“We are working with AstraZeneca to optimize the pipeline required for a strain change should one be required,” said Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology and lead investigator of the Oxford vaccine study, in Friday’s press release.
“This is the same problem that all vaccine developers face and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in anticipation of a future strain change.”
– CNBC’s Sam Meredith and Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.