- Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature (2-8 °C)
- Oxford plans to supply vaccine globally; three million doses during 2021
- Immunogenicity was similar across age groups after a boost vaccination
New Delhi: A potential COVID-19 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) being developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca Plc has shown an overall efficacy of 70.4 per cent efficacy when combining data from two dosing regimens. The efficacy data are based on 11,636 volunteers across the United Kingdom and Brazil, and combined across three groups of people vaccinated. Two groups received a standard dose prime vaccination followed by a standard dose booster vaccination and one group (in the UK only) received a low dose prime vaccination followed by a standard dose vaccination. The Oxford trials found that in participants who received two standard doses, vaccine efficacy was 62.1 per cent and in participants who received a low dose followed by a standard dose, efficacy was 90 per cent. The results published in The Lancet on Tuesday (December 8) claim to be the first peer-reviewed efficacy results to be published for a viral-vectored coronavirus vaccine.
The news comes after American drug giant Pfizer on November 18 said that final results from the late-stage trial of its coronavirus vaccine was found to be 95 per cent effective and had no serious side effects on older people. Preliminary data from late-stage clinical trials of US biotech company Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine have also shown 94.5 per cent efficacy and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is said to be 92 per cent effective.
Earlier in November, the University of Oxford had released preliminary data wherein vaccine efficacy was 90 per cent if administered at a half dose and then at a full dose. Later, it was noted that due to an error initially some of the trial participants received a half dose.
Today marks an important milestone in the fight against #COVID19. Interim data show the #OxfordVaccine is 70.4% effective, & tests on two dose regimens show that it could be 90%, moving us one step closer to supplying it at low cost around the world>> https://t.co/fnHnKSqftT pic.twitter.com/2KYXPxFNz1
— University of Oxford (@UniofOxford) November 23, 2020
As per the latest report, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 has an acceptable safety profile and is efficacious against symptomatic COVID-19, with no hospital admissions or severe cases reported in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 arm.
Oxford COVID-19 vaccine that will be called Covishield in India is one of the frontrunners in the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine. The potential COVID-19 vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold causing adenovirus that has been engineered to code for the spike protein that the novel coronavirus uses to attach to the host cells and invade those. Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca and other collaborators plan to supply vaccine globally and three million doses during 2021.
According to the University of Oxford, its COVID-19 vaccine will play a crucial role as it can be stored in a fridge (temperature 2-8 °C) rather than a freezer, which makes it easier to deliver and administer in existing healthcare settings.
We have known for many years that adenoviral vectored vaccines fulfill the requirements for use against outbreak or pandemic diseases. They are safe, highly immunogenic, can be manufactured in large quantities at low cost and do not require frozen storage. Following the demonstration of vaccine efficacy in many preclinical studies, we now have clear evidence of efficacy in the trial results presented in a peer-reviewed publication today. Now under regulatory review, we hope that this vaccine will shortly be in use to start saving lives, said Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford in a statement issued by the University.
It is a challenge for India to procure and administer potential COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik V vaccine as they need to be stored at extremely cold temperature. For instance, Pfizer’s BNT162b2 vaccine would need ultra-cold chain – storage at minus 75 degrees Celcius before being distributed and India does not have such a cold chain facility.
For India, Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine is one of the good options. The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker by the number of doses produced, had partnered with AstraZeneca to conduct the trials in India and manufacture AZD1222. The phase 3 trials for the same are underway in India.
On December 4, Pfizer India became the first pharmaceutical firm to seek an emergency use authorisation for its COVID-19 vaccine from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), after its parent company secured such clearance in the UK and Bahrain. Following this, the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech also sought for an emergency use approval from the Government of India.
Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Produces Strong Immune Response Among Elderlies In U.K.
Oxford’s vaccine had produced a strong immune response in healthy older adults (aged 56 years and above) in the U.K., states the paper published in the medical journal The Lancet on Thursday (November 19). Sharing the development of the Oxford vaccine, Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet wrote on Twitter, “The phase II results of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are here. Extremely encouraging news. It’s hard to believe we have got to this point in less than 12 months. Unbelievable levels of global collaboration.”
The phase II results of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are here. Extremely encouraging news. It’s hard to believe we have got to this point in <12 months. Unbelievable levels of global collaboration. https://t.co/K46JRbzxwv
— richard horton (@richardhorton1) November 19, 2020
Explaining the results of Phase 2 clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine, the researchers in the Lancet report have stated,
Our findings show that the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine was safe and well tolerated with a lower reactogenicity profile in older adults than in younger adults. Immunogenicity was similar across age groups after a boost vaccination. If these responses correlate with protection in humans, these findings are encouraging because older individuals are at disproportionate risk of severe COVID-19 and so any vaccine adopted for use against SARS-CoV-2 must be effective in older adults.
The interpretation of the trials clearly states that further assessment of the efficacy of this vaccine is warranted in all age groups and individuals with comorbidities.
The Lancet report further stated,
Antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein were induced in all age groups and were boosted and maintained at 28 days after booster vaccination, including in the 70 years and older group. Cellular immune responses were also induced in all age and dose groups, peaking at day 14 after vaccination.
Between May 30 and August 8, 560 participants were enrolled in the randomised, controlled, phase 2/3 trial. Participants were eligible if they did not have severe or uncontrolled medical comorbidities or a high frailty score (if aged ≥65 years). All 560 participants were randomly assigned to the two vaccine groups – Oxford vaccine and MenACWY vaccine that protects against four different strains of the meningococcal bacteria that cause meningitis and blood poisoning.
Local and systemic reactions were more common in participants given ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 than in those given the control vaccine, and similar in nature to those previously reported (injection-site pain, feeling feverish, muscle ache, headache), but were less common in older adults (aged ≥56 years) than younger adults, states the report.
Dr Angela Minassian, Investigator at the University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases believes inducing robust immune responses in older adults has been a long-standing challenge in human vaccine research but Oxford vaccine has been able to overcome it.
To show this vaccine technology is able to induce these responses, in the age group most at risk from severe COVID-19 disease, offers hope that vaccine efficacy will be similar in younger and older adults, said Dr Minassian, as quoted in the news release issued by the University of Oxford.
COVID-19 Vaccine Covishield For India
In October, in an interview with NDTV, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, SII, talked about the availability of Covishield vaccine in India and said,
If we don’t go for an emergency license our trials should be over by December and then we can maybe launch in India in January subject to the U.K. trial also being completed which is on the verge of being completed. It could still take two months for widespread availability.
Mr Poonawalla also informed that the vaccine will be very affordable. It will cost a few hundred rupees; will be way cheaper than RT-PCR test.
Talking to NDTV about the latest development on COVID-19 front, Dr Om Srivastav, Director Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, called the results encouraging. Further elaborating on what it means for India, he added,
You can’t extrapolate results from one community to the other but if the results on a matched kind of a population is good then there is a reason to be encouraged with this kind of results. Ultimately, as to how good the vaccine is, we will know only after we go through the phase 3 post vaccine studies as to how much benefit it has offered after the vaccine was given to a certain population. It is not that you give the vaccine today and by the next week you will be able to say that the vaccine is working. We will have to see the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and what is the benefit over a period of three months, six months and 12 months times. On paper, based on what has been shared so far, it appears to be encouraging and promising.
Apart from Oxford vaccine’s trials underway in India, the country is also developing indigenous vaccines which are in phase 2 and phase 3 trials. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is already in advanced stage trial – Phase 3. On November 19 speaking at an event, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan hoped about India getting a vaccine against COVID-19 in 2021. To this, Dr Srivastav said,
We will be getting a vaccine but it has to be viewed in a perspective as to which is the best vaccine for Indian population and over a period of time, how much benefit it offers to a population.
Dr Srivastav noted that each vaccine candidate is dependent on novel technology. Like, Oxford vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold causing adenovirus; Pfizer’s vaccine candidate is based on a technology that uses synthetic mRNA (Messenger ribonucleic acid) to activate the immune system against the coronavirus. He said,
Each one promises to be successful but whether they are going to be as successful as it appears in phase 2 trials and whether we will be able to see that kind of benefit when the vaccine becomes available, we will have to wait and watch.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.