The chief of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which developed a coronavirus vaccination with Oxford University, has said they have discovered the “winning formula” to improving efficacy, amidst reports that the vaccine will be approved in the next week.
Chief Executive of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, claims that his product is as effective as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was the first in Britain and the Western world to be granted government approval.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr Soriot said: “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else.”
Sources told the newspaper of record that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will approve the AstraZeneca/Oxford product by Thursday. Sources also told the newspaper that it will be effective against the new strain of the virus discovered earlier this month in Britain.
Benefits of the Oxford vaccine include that it can be stored in a regular medical refrigerator and costs as little as £2 to £3 per injection. The Pfizer product costs some five times more at £15 per dose, and needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celcius.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca shot is also made in the UK, meaning that travel restrictions due to the pandemic will have minimal impact on production or rollout.
Sky News reports that it is supposed to be safer for those with allergies.
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The Telegraph also claims, according to sources, that ministers are drawing up plans for millions of Britons to receive doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from January 4th. Two million people are expected to be administered the first dose of either the Oxford or Pfizer jab within the first two weeks of the New Year.
The government has reportedly ordered 100 million doses and if it is approved will open vaccination centres at sports centres and other large venues in the second week of January.
Responding to the reports, the government told Sky News: “The medicines regulator is reviewing the final data from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca phase three clinical trials to determine whether the vaccine meets their strict standards of quality, safety and effectiveness.”
“We must now give the MHRA the time to carry out its important work and we must wait for its advice,” the spokesman added.
A third vaccine, being developed by Moderna, is also currently being assessed by the MHRA.