For the third time this month, a high-profile coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be extremely effective in keeping the global health scourge at bay. AstraZeneca (AZN 0.27%) reported late Sunday that AZD1222, the vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford, met its primary endpoint of protection from COVID-19, according to an independent data-safety monitoring board.
The findings come from an interim analysis of clinical trials for the vaccine candidate taking place in the U.K. and in Brazil. The analysis comprises a total of 131 COVID-19 cases.
The data from the studies indicate the average efficacy of AZD1222 was 70%. One of the two dosing regimens, in which the vaccine was administered as a half-dose with a full-dose booster following at least one month later, showed an efficacy rate of 90%. The other, in which two full doses were given within the same time parameters, showed a 62% rate.
"This vaccine's efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency," AstraZeneca quoted CEO Pascal Soriot as saying.
The company said it will immediately prepare the data for submission to regulators around the world that can approve vaccines and medications on an early or conditional basis. One of AstraZeneca's submittals will be to the World Health Organization, with the aim of obtaining an Emergency Use Listing.
AstraZeneca added that it "is making rapid progress" in preparing to produce AZD1222 at a massive scale. It said its capacity is now up to 3 billion doses in 2021. In contrast to the vaccines being developed by Moderna, and Pfizer and BioNTech, its candidate can be stored at standard refrigeration temperatures (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for months at a stretch.