AstraZeneca’s fresh data showing COVID-19 vaccine is 76 percent effective

*In view of the criticisms over its original data on COVID-19 Vaccine, drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc has submitted additional data to regulators on its vaccine with the efficacy rate declining slightly from 79 percent to 76 percent, but says the effectiveness against severe forms of COVID-19 yet remains at 100 percent

*South Africa comes under fire from leading scientists for suspending and reselling AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine doses to other countries on the African continent

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to criticisms by other stakeholders, drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc has sought to quell a week-long dust-up over its Coronavirus (COVID-19) trial results by issuing new data that suggests the vaccine is 76 percent effective against the virus.

ConsumerConnect had reported that AstraZeneca’s previous results, released Monday, March 22 had declared that the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 79 percent.

However, on the following day, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), United States, headed by foremost American scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci, raised questions about the results, saying the trial relied on “outdated results”.

The London-based drug company, which produced its vaccine in collaboration with scientists at Oxford University, in the UK, has now released supplementary data that is based on an analysis of 190 cases of symptomatic COVID-19 that occurred in the trial. That’s 49 more than were in the initial release, according to report.

While the efficacy rate declined slightly, from 79 percent to 76 percent, the effectiveness against severe forms of COVID-19, including death, remained at 100 percent.

The company’s scientists said the updated results were in line with the initial report on Monday.

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice-President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, said: “The primary analysis is consistent with our previously released interim analysis, and confirms that our COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in adults, including those aged 65 years and over.

“We look forward to filing our regulatory submission for Emergency Use Authorisation in the US and preparing for the rollout of millions of doses across America.”

In the last week, reports indicate that several health experts raised concerns about the controversy that has been associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dr. Fauci told CNN that the botched data release was “an unforced error” that clouds “what is probably a very good vaccine.”

The leading scientist said: “This kind of thing does nothing but cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy (to take them).

“It wasn’t necessary. If you look at it the data really are quite good.”

AstraZeneca, now armed with the updated data, has disclosed that it plans to move forward with an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorisation (EUA) for distribution in the US.

The vaccine is already widely used internationally, including in Ghana, Nigeria, and several others.

South Africa under fire for reselling AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine doses

In the meantime, South Africa is facing criticisms over the country’s decision to resell about one million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine it initially ordered for use.

ConsumerConnect gathered that six of South Africa’s leading medical scientists said the government’s decision to sell 1 million Coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca Plc to other African nations is questionable because it had not determined their effectiveness against a variant that is widespread on the continent.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

It is recalled that South Africa bought the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine shots from the Serum Institute of India Limited, which is making the vaccine under licence.

However, the Southern African country suspended their rollout to healthcare workers February 2021, after a minor study indicated they were largely ineffective in stopping mild disease caused by a virus variant first identified in South Africa late 2020.

The country later resold the vaccine doses to other African nations March this year.

Nonetheless, the South African scientists in an editorial published in the South African Medical Journal Thursday, March 25, hit hard at the country’s authorities for reselling doses of the vaccine brand to other countries on the continent.

Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist from the University of the Witwatersrand who led others that monitored a trial of AstraZeneca’s shot in South Africa, wrote the piercing editorial in the professional journal.

Other scientists on the team are Francois Venter, Jeremy Nel and Alex van den Heever from the same university, along with Marc Mendelson from the University of Cape Town and Mosa Moshabela from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

The scientists wrote: “Sending the AstraZeneca vaccine to other African countries raises deep ethical concerns.

“The B.1.351 variant has been detected throughout Africa, and may be responsible for the devastating second wave many countries have just experienced.

“If the South African authorities truly believed that the AstraZeneca vaccine did not work, why was it sold on to the African Union?”

The sale comes as South Africa lags behind countries elsewhere in Africa and emerging market peers in vaccinating its people, with just over 200,000 inoculated to date.

But the AstraZeneca Vaccine is likely to prevent severe disease, according to the scientists.

Other vaccines, including the one made by Pfizer Inc. that will be supplied to South Africa, have not been comprehensively tested against the variant, the scientists said.

South Africa is reported as the worst hit country in Africa by the damaging Coronavirus with 1.54 million confirmed cases and over 52,000 deaths thus far.

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