The British government announced Friday, November 27, that it had asked the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) to examine the vaccine against the new coronavirus developed by the British laboratory AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, in view of its commercialization.
“We have officially asked the health regulator to assess the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards”Health Minister Matt Hancock said in a statement.
If approved, this will constitute a “Important step towards the deployment of a vaccine as quickly as possible”, he added.
The United Kingdom, the most bereaved country in Europe by the epidemic with more than 57,000 dead, is also “The first country in the world to have signed an agreement with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, guaranteeing access to 100 million doses”, specifies the Ministry of Health.
If the vaccine is approved, 4 million doses will be delivered to the UK by the end of the year, followed by another 40 million by the end of March 2021.
On Thursday, the CEO of AstraZeneca announced that the vaccine would be submitted to “An additional study” after criticism of its first results, without this delaying its approval by European and British regulators, according to him.
According to interim results from large-scale clinical trials released on Monday, the vaccine is on average 70% effective. However, behind this average lie large differences between two different protocols: the efficacy is 90% for the volunteers who first received a half-dose, then a full dose a month later, but only 62% for another group, which was however more vaccinated, with two complete doses.
While the injection of a half-dose was originally due to an error, which explains why only 3000 patients followed this protocol, the results seem to show that this first regimen leads to a better immune response. “Now that we have found what appears to be better efficacy, we need to validate it, so do an additional study”, Pascal Soriot said in an interview with the Bloomberg agency.
For the moment less convincing than that of Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna, AstraZeneca’s vaccine does however have the advantage of using a more traditional technology which makes it less expensive and easier to store.
The previous week, the British government had already asked its health regulator to examine the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, of which it is expected to order 40 million doses.
Our selection of articles on the coronavirus