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AstraZeneca says US trial data shows its COVID-19 vaccine is 79% effective

"We can expect strong impact against COVID-19 across all ages and for people of all different backgrounds," said Oxford University's vaccine chief.
/ Source: NBC News

LONDON — A vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is highly effective against stopping COVID-19 and completely prevents severe illness and hospitalization across all age groups, the company announced on Monday.

AstraZeneca said it will now release its data for analysis by the scientific community in peer-review literature, and apply to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.

The Phase 3 trial, conducted in the U.S., Chile and Peru with 32,000 volunteers, showed the vaccine was 79% effective against the disease and 100% effective in stopping severe and fatal cases, the company said in a press release.

More than 50 countries across the world have approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, including the United Kingdom, which approved it in December and has vaccinated half its adult population.

The results showed an even higher rate of effectiveness than studies conducted in Oxford, the company said.

"These results are great news as they show the remarkable efficacy of the vaccine in a new population and are consistent with the results from Oxford-led trials," said Andrew Pollard, professor of pediatric infection and immunity, and the lead investigator of the Oxford University trial.

"We can expect strong impact against COVID-19 across all ages and for people of all different backgrounds from widespread us of the vaccine."

While the AstraZeneca vaccine has been repeatedly shown to be safe and effective in trials, it suffers from a reputation problem. Almost a dozen countries last week restarted administering the vaccine after a pause due to fears over serious side-effects such as blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency said last week the vaccine was safe, and now AstraZeneca has said it found "no increased risk of thrombosis" among the 21,583 trial participants receiving at least one dose.

Some European countries, including Germany and France, had initially approved the vaccine but recommended against older people receiving it, before making it available to over-65s.

AstraZeneca said Monday that its effectiveness in people aged 65 and over was 80%.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has been steadily building a stockpile of some 7 million shots of the vaccine — some of which President Joe Biden's administration is sending to Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. has signed a deal to receive 300 million doses of the vaccine, after its approval.

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