In a letter released on Friday, Oxford researchers said that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford protected people against a new, more infectious coronavirus variant at similar levels.
The paper, which has not yet been peer reviewed, stated that the vaccine had 74.6 percent efficacy against the new version, which was first found in Britain and is known as B.1.1.7. This was similar, although the virus had a slightly lower efficacy than other lineages.
Preliminary, encouraging, findings suggest that all five of the leading vaccines may provide at least some protection against new variants of the virus spread worldwide. Nevertheless, increasing evidence suggests that mutant viruses may reduce the efficacy of vaccines, increasing the pressure on countries to vaccinate their populations as quickly as possible and reverse the changes occurring around the world.
In clinical trials, the AstraZeneca – Oxford vaccine provided protection against critical illness or death to all participants.
Oxford scientists behind the vaccine took a weekly swab from the nose and throat of the participants enrolled in their clinical trials in Britain. To determine the vaccine’s efficacy against the new version, they sequenced viral particles from several hundred swabs between 1 October and 14 January, a period when the new version was present in the UK.
The virus had 84 percent efficacy against other microbes in the virus, compared to 74.6 percent against the new variant, although scientists did not have sufficient statistical confidence to establish whether the vaccine was slightly less effective than the variant.
Andrew Pollard, Oxford’s chief investigator for vaccine testing, said at a news conference that new data suggests the vaccine has a “very similar” level against the original pandemic virus and a rapidly spreading variant in the UK and some others. Countries.
Researchers also performed laboratory tests on blood samples from clinical trial participants who were vaccinated. They were found to have a nine-fold decrease in activity levels of vaccine-borne antibodies against the B.1.1.7 variant compared to the second lineage of the variant. This is an indication that the vaccine may have reduced potency to neutralize variants, although it still appears to be potent enough to be protective.
The version, first revealed in Britain, has been reported in more than 70 other countries. Public Health England has estimated that the infection rate of variants is 25 percent to 40 percent higher than other forms of coronavirus.
Preliminary data from lab tests of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines suggest that they provide good protection against the type B1.1.1. Novavax, which sequenced test samples from its clinical trial participants in the UK while the version was widely circulating there, found that its vaccine was highly effective against the B.1.1.7 variant.
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The paper released on Friday did not address the protective power of the AstraZeneca vaccine against another rapidly spreading coronavirus variant, known as B.1.351, was first identified in South Africa. Researchers are doing similar lab tests to try to measure that type of effect on the vaccine’s potential.
AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorized in about 50 countries around the world, but not in the United States, where the Food and Drug Administration awaits data from a clinical trial involving more than 30,000 participants, Most of which are American. The results of that study are expected in March.
In the United States, version B.1.1.7 has been identified in 33 states, but the full extent of its spread is unknown due to the lack of a national monitoring program. Federal health officials have warned that it could become the dominant form of the virus in the United States by March.