'Game-changer' coronavirus vaccine could soon be on way

Oxford vaccine got earliest and biggest seed money from Washington

The results of a new vaccine to deal with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic are just out and it could be a “game-changer.”

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Scientists at Oxford University working with the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company said their treatment has been proven to be effective in up to 90% of cases. They also said it has other advantages over two other vaccines now out from Pfizer and Moderna.

“This and other vaccines are the answer, they are the key to dealing with this virus,” Adrian Hill, lead scientist at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, told Fox Business.

Ruud Dobber, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals for AstraZeneca, said the vaccines are “the biggest solution to get rid of the epidemic.”  

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The finding of 90% efficacy for the vaccine is based on giving first a half-dose and then, a while later, a full dose. Hill called the result “super-impressive."

The “average” rate from the vaccine is put at 70%. That’s because a full dose/full dose regimen results in 62% efficiency.  

Hill said that Oxford's 90% dosage is what they will plan to distribute. But he and others caution it depends on more testing and regulators in the U.S., Britain and Europe.

“It is almost a go,” AstraZeneca’s Dobber remarked. 

Oxford is also “really pleased and excited” about the vaccine’s handling of the two extremes of the disease, asymptomatic and serious. AstraZeneca says the vaccine’s safety aspects are “highly significant.”

Still, while the two other vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have published higher overall efficacy rates, there are other factors that could place the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine ahead :

Their vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerator temperature, 32 to 46 degrees. Moderna needs -4 degrees and Pfizer -94 degrees. That makes transport and storage much easier and cheaper.

The cost of a dose of their vaccine, during the pandemic, is $3-$5. Pfizer’s is $20. Moderna’s ranges in cost from $32 to $37.

And the production plans for the AstraZeneca vaccine are most advanced, with 10 factories ready to produce as many as 3 billion doses next year. The U.S. has pre-ordered 300 million. Britain, Europe and global organizations have ordered hundreds of millions more.

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The Oxford vaccine, part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” project, got the earliest and biggest seed money from Washington, $1.2 billion. Dobber said he was “grateful for the support given by the U.S.”   

The AstraZeneca vaccine was seen as a top contender.