New global COVID-19 vaccine announced today

Researcher working in a scientific laboratory searching for a vaccine for COVID-19

A safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, based on decades of in-depth research, supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and developed by University of Oxford and AstraZeneca will save lives across the world.

The new vaccine is shown to be:

  • effective
  • safe
  • easily distributed and administered
  • available on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic.

The vaccine development was part funded by UKRI.

70.4% effective

Over 24,000 people have been involved in the trial so far in the UK, Brazil and South Africa to ensure results are valid for different regions of the world and for different ethnic groups.

The vaccine is 70.4% effective when combining data from two dosing regimens. There are early indications that the vaccine could reduce virus transmission, from an observed reduction in asymptomatic infections.

Crucially, the vaccine can be:

  • easily administered in existing healthcare systems
  • stored at ‘fridge temperature’ (2-8°C)
  • distributed using existing logistics.

Large scale manufacturing is ongoing in over 10 countries to support equitable global access.

Over 60,000 participants by end of the year

The phase I/II trial results have shown that the vaccine induces strong antibody and T cell immune responses across all age groups, including those most at risk, older adults.

Further trials are continuing in the United States, Kenya, Japan and India and researchers expect to have over 60,000 participants in the trials by the end of the year.

AstraZeneca has agreements in place to supply three billion doses of the vaccine, which will be available to people around the world in 2021.

£28 million of funding

In addition to the core Oxford team of more than 280 staff, including over 50 academic authors and 65 nurses based at the Oxford University Hospital, the university is collaborating with over 2,000 staff across 19 UK trial sites in addition to sites in Brazil, South Africa and Kenya.

£28 million of funding by the UK government, including vital early investment by UKRI, has been key in the development of the vaccine and for the UK’s 10,260 person trial.

A Herculean achievement

Professor Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI said:

It’s a Herculean achievement in under a year and a tribute to the dedication of many people – from scientists and clinicians in universities and industry to the trial volunteers – who have come together to deliver this promising vaccine with tremendous speed.

These preliminary Phase III results show the Oxford-led COVID-19 vaccine could be more effective against coronavirus than typical vaccines against seasonal flu, but more study is needed to understand dosing and the protective response from the vaccine.

We are proud to have supported this promising and inexpensive vaccine, which could be easily distributed at fridge temperature and administered by healthcare systems worldwide.

The Oxford-led vaccine team are among the first in the world trialling a vaccine because, before this pandemic when coronaviruses were only one of many possible epidemic threats, the UK government invested in their vaccine research and development.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said:

These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply. Today’s announcement is only possible thanks to the many volunteers in our trial, and the hard working and talented team of researchers based around the world.

Multi-national effort

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, 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 SARS-CoV-2. We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said:

Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency. Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.

Read the Oxford/AstraZeneca press release: Oxford University breakthrough on global COVID-19 vaccine.

Top image: Credit: FatCamera/GettyImages

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