AstraZeneca: Shot will be effective against COVID-19 variant

LONDON (AP) - The head of drug maker AstraZeneca, which is developing a coronavirus vaccine that is widely expected to be approved by UK authorities this week, said on Sunday that researchers believe the shot against a new variant the virus will be effective causing a rapid increase in infections in the UK.
Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, also told the Sunday Times that researchers developing their vaccine have found a "formula for success" that will make the push as effective as the competitive candidates.
Some have raised concerns that the AstraZeneca vaccine being developed with Oxford University may not be as good as Pfizer's, which is already being sold in the UK and other countries. Partial results suggest that the AstraZeneca shot is around 70% effective in preventing disease from coronavirus infection, compared to the 95% effectiveness reported by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
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"We think we figured out the formula for success and figured out how to get effectiveness that is everyone else's after two doses," said Soriot. "I can't tell you more because we will publish at some point."
The UK Government says the Medicines Agency is reviewing the final data from AstraZeneca's Phase 3 clinical trials. The Times and others have reported that the green light could come by Thursday and vaccines can be rolled out to the UK public by the first week of January.
When asked about the effectiveness of the vaccine against the new variant of the spread of coronavirus in the UK, Soriot said, “So far we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can't be sure, so we're going to test this. "
The UK authorities have blamed the new virus variant for rising infection rates across the country. They said the variant is much more communicable, but there is no evidence that people get sick.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urgently alerted the variant days before Christmas, saying the new version of the virus had spread rapidly and plans to travel and collect would have to be canceled for millions. Since then, the authorities have placed the most stringent restrictions on more and more areas of the country - affecting around 24 million people, or 43% of the population.
Many countries quickly banned travel from the UK, but since then cases of the new variant have also been reported in a dozen places around the world.
Public health officials said on Dec. 24 that more than 600,000 people had received the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
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Pascal Soriot

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