AstraZeneca CEO, Pascal Soriot, has told the Sunday Times that he believes researchers have found “the winning formula” by using two doses of the vaccine, and promised to publish the results, as reports suggest that the UK regulator could approve the injection within days.
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. I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.”
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the UK could roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from 4 January, according to plans drawn up by ministers.
The UK government has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, with around 40 million expected to be available by the end of March.
Dr Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said, “It looks really promising and it also looks very deliverable.
“We have huge optimism that this is a major part of how we can control the current surge.”
MHRA reviewing Oxford vaccine data
Responding to the report, the government stated that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) must be given time to review the vaccine data.
It said, “The medicines regulator is reviewing the final data from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca phase three 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.”
Professor Calum Semple, a respiratory disease expert and member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), described the Oxford vaccine as a “game changer” if it is approved by the MHRA in the coming days.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said, “This vaccine is very important because not only does it generate the antibodies that protect you from being infected, it also generates these ‘hunter killer cells’ - the T cells - that actually deal with infection.
“They help people who have some degree of infection, if a little of the virus escapes and starts causing infection it can actually treat the disease as well in the people that have been vaccinated, so it’s a very, very good vaccine.”
‘A brighter future’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak praised UK vaccination efforts so far, telling the Mail on Sunday, “There will be tough days and months again, but there are reasons to look ahead to a brighter future and what 2021 promises.
“The early roll out of vaccines - and the incredible work of our scientists and the NHS - means we can now see light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic.”