Oxford-Astrazeneca's coronavirus vaccine has been approved in the UK

Oxford-Astrazeneca's coronavirus vaccine has been approved in the UK

The green light in the European Union, however, is not close. Ema does not expect to conclude the trial before the end of January

(photo: Triggermouse via Pixabay) After the Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna Covid vaccines, today the spotlight is on the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, another protagonist of the response to the pandemic, developed by the University of Oxford and the Irbm of Pomezia and produced by Astrazeneca. Today, the drug has been authorized for emergency use in the United Kingdom. The news of the approval comes from Astrazeneca itself, which makes it known that the first vaccinations will be administered at the beginning of the new year, in a few days.

The authorization process seems similar to that followed by Pfizer's vaccine- Biontech, which was approved first in Great Britain and later also by the European Medicines Agency (Ema), the body responsible for regulating medicines in the European Union. Also in this case, the EU green light is not yet there and probably will not be very close, since it could arrive no earlier than the end of January.

The Oxford vaccine

The Oxford vaccine, developed together with Italy, has often been talked about during the pandemic. Its name is ChAdOx1 (acronym AZD1222) and it is a viral vector vaccine: the cell is supplied with the information necessary to produce the coronavirus spike protein, against which the immune system will produce a response. All this happens through a viral vector, a weakened version of the virus that is not dangerous like an adenovirus, which generally causes colds. The vaccine is indicated for use in people aged 18 and over and the UK authorization is based on the results of a Phase 3 clinical trial, the latest stage of the trial, published on 8 December 2020 in a interim analysis (still not complete on all data) on The Lancet.

How effective is the Oxford vaccine?

The strong scientific and media interest has highlighted moments of enthusiasm and even some shadow. According to partial data, previously the vaccine had shown an average efficacy of 70% (generally ranging from 62% to 90% depending on the dosage). Some doubts, however, arose from the fact that 90% efficacy was reached with a halved dosage (half dose) on the first administration and a full dose on booster - result obtained by chance due to an error in the experiment - and this data had caused discussion. But subsequent tests, according to what was reported by the CEO of Astrazeneca Pascal Soriot in an interview with the Sunday Times, proved an efficacy of more than 90%, comparable to that of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The health authorities responsible for drug authorization are awaiting complete data.

When it will arrive

At the moment we do not have a date for the arrival of the vaccine even in the European Union. EMA will most likely fail to approve the vaccine in January, according to the deputy executive director of the regulatory authority, Noel Wathion, to the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad and reported in a note by Adnkronos. The expert points out that the company has not yet submitted the application. The information received so far, Wathion points out, "is not sufficient to guarantee even conditional approval. We need additional data on the quality of the vaccine. And after this, the company must submit a formal application ". In short, we also hope this path will open soon, given that the fastest possible authorization is crucial, as underlined by the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza. In the meantime, the European Union has bought another 100 million doses of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine.

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