HealthDay News — The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was 79 percent effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection in a large U.S. clinical trial, the company announced Monday.
The U.S. government has preordered 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to The Washington Post.
“We are confident this vaccine can play an important role in protecting millions of people worldwide against this lethal virus,” Mene Pangalos, executive vice president at BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said in a company news release. “We are preparing to submit these findings to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and for the rollout of millions of doses across America should the vaccine be granted U.S. Emergency Use Authorization.”
Involving more than 32,000 participants, the U.S. trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine was the largest test to date for the shot. The findings also showed that the vaccine offered 80 percent protection for older people, who had not been as well represented in earlier studies.
The interim results announced on Monday were based on 141 COVID-19 cases that had turned up in volunteers. Two-thirds of participants were given the vaccine, with doses spaced four weeks apart, and the rest received a saline placebo. None of the volunteers who got the vaccine developed severe symptoms or had to be hospitalized, a major selling point for the shot. However, AstraZeneca did not disclose how many volunteers had developed severe COVID-19 or had to be hospitalized after receiving the placebo shot for comparison.
The findings may help restore confidence in the vaccine that was lost recently after more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, suspended use of the shot following reports of rare blood clots. Most of those countries returned to using the AstraZeneca vaccine late last week, after the European Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs in the European Union, analyzed the data and pronounced the vaccine safe and effective.