AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine received a major boost after data from a large trial showed it was safe and effective, potentially paving the way for its emergency authorisation in the US as countries in Asia accelerated its rollout.
The trials in the US, Chile and Peru showed the vaccine was 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and could bolster confidence in the product after confusion over its efficacy data, dosing regimen and possible side-effects.
Many European countries halted the use of the AstraZeneca shot earlier this month after some reports that it was linked to blood clots, but have since resumed inoculation after a regional regulator said it was safe. A survey on Monday showed Europeans remained sceptical over its safety.
Leaders in Asia have sought to boost public confidence by taking the AstraZeneca shot themselves amid concerns a slowdown in the global vaccination rollout could hurt the fight against COVID-19, which has killed over 2.8 million people worldwide.
The AstraZeneca shot was among the first and cheapest of the COVID-19 vaccines to be developed and launched at volume and is set to be the mainstay of vaccination programmes in much of the developing world.
The European Medicines Agency regulator said the vaccine is effective and not linked with a rise in the overall risk of blood clots.
Yet a survey released showed that people in seven European countries were more likely to see the vaccine as unsafe than as safe.
Many Asian countries heavily rely on the AstraZeneca vaccine to end the pandemic, as the shot is being used in inoculation programmes in Australia, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and India.
Some states in India, which has the highest coronavirus caseload after the US and Brazil, are seeking to accelerate the vaccination drive, as the country reported its most COVID-19 cases and deaths in months on Monday.
As vaccine demand rises at home, Serum Institute of India has delayed further shipments of the AstraZeneca shot to the UK, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
Australia, which has inoculated just one per cent of its population so far, is also accelerating vaccination after the country’s pharma regulator approved the local manufacturing of the AstraZeneca vaccine by CSL.
Within 12 weeks, CSL is expected to produce one million doses of the vaccine each week.
(Edits by EP News Bureau)