Oxford’s Covid vaccine shows a potential for up to 90% protection - but how does it compare to the others?

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 9:08 am
Updated Monday, 23rd November 2020, 9:09 am

Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine has been found to be 70 per cent effective in stopping people from developing Covid-19.

The UK government has already pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, which is enough to immunise 50 million people.

The vaccine has been developed at Oxford University, with support from the pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca. The researchers have developed the vaccine in about 10 months. It usually takes around 10 years.

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Although the large-scale trial initially showed that the Oxford vaccine is less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine (doses of which the government has also placed orders for), this vaccine is cheaper and easier to store.

Potential for up to 90% protection

More than 20,000 volunteers were involved in the trial, half of which were in the UK and the rest in Brazil.

The trial found that there were 30 cases of Covid-19 in people who received two doses of the vaccine, and 101 cases in people who received a dummy injection. Researchers say this works out at around 70 per cent protection.

However, data also suggests that tweaks to the jab could increase its protection up to 90 per cent.

When volunteers were given two "high" doses of the vaccine, the protection was 62 per cent, but this then rose to 90 per cent when people were given a "low" dose followed by a high one.

Although it’s not yet clear why there is a difference, the trial’s lead investigator, Professor Andrew Pollard, said that the data was “intriguing” and would mean that they “would have a lot more doses to distribute."

The vaccine's architect, Professor Sarah Gilbert, said, "The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by [the virus].”

The vaccine is still to be approved by regulators, who will assess its safety and effectiveness, alongside checking that it is manufactured to a high standard. This process is expected to happen in the upcoming weeks.

What about the other vaccines?

The trial results of the Oxford University vaccine comes after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were recently found to be around 95 per cent effective.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people. Globally, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to produce up to 50 million doses in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

However, the jab (which needs to be stored at around -70C) has not yet been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

The UK government has also ordered five million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, which has been found to be 94.5 per cent effective in preliminary trials.

The Moderna vaccine has been shown to last for up to 30 days in household fridges, and at room temperature for up to 12 hours. It also remains stable at -20C (the temperature of most household or medical freezers) for up to six months.

The Moderna vaccine - if it proves safe - is expected to be rolled out across the UK by spring 2021.