New study finds AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine effective amidst global skepticism

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine effective
A vial containing the Covid-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe displayed on a table in a pharmacy. The World Health Organization gave emergency use approval to AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccines on February 15, 2021, allowing distribution to some of the world's poorest countries to begin. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | A new United States-led study has found the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine effective both at preventing symptomatic coronavirus and severe illness.

The results of the study involving over 32,499 participants across all age groups in the US, Chile and Peru has found the drug to offer 100 per cent protection against severe illness.  

According to a press statement released by Oxford University on Monday 22, March 2021, the vaccine worked well across all age groups in the study. A fifth of the volunteers were over 65 years of age and the vaccine, given in two doses in a space of four weeks provided as much protection to them as to their younger counterparts.   

These results which come at a time of heightening skepticism all over the world with concerns of severe side effects such as blood clots and death among those that took the jab also show that the drug was 79 per cent effective in stopping symptomatic disease. Of all the participants involved, 149 developed symptoms of the viral respiratory disease during the study duration. 

According to Prof. Andrew Pollard, the Lead investigator of the Oxford University trial of the vaccine, the results come in handy as they show the remarkable efficacy of the vaccine in a new population and are consistent with the results from Oxford-led trials that earlier showed the efficacy of 62 per cent in preventing severe symptoms of the disease. 

“We can expect strong impact against COVID-19 across all ages and for people of all different backgrounds from widespread use of the vaccine,” Pollard said in a statement.

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Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been the most widely preferred because of its normal refrigeration requirements. Many countries in Africa that have recently received vaccines through the COVAX facility, the global initiative to guarantee equitable access to the vaccine by all countries have mostly got the AstraZeneca vaccine even though some countries have had to pause vaccination due to safety concerns. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced last week that there was so far no direct link between vaccine use and the reported side effects in a number of countries. Although, they said further analysis was still ongoing.