In the COVID-19 vaccine race, many bet on the candidate developed by Oxford University and English-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca Plc (NYSE: AZN). Backed by Boris Johnson‘s UK government, it has recently received a $1.2 billion support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within the U.S. program called “Operation Warp Speed”. Now AstraZeneca and Oxford University are getting ready for the crucial phase in the human trials.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca (AZN) stock was 0.11% down on Friday, at $55.22. Despite a small drop, the price is still very close to its all-time high.
Known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, COVID-19 vaccine candidate of AstraZeneca and Oxford University is one of the leading in the worldwide race. Its initial trial started on April 23 and involved 1,000 volunteers aged 18-55 who received the injection. The upcoming phase of the human trial will involve another 10,000 volunteers, including children age 5 to 12 and people over 70. Oxford team leader Professor Andrew Pollard explained:
“The main reason why that is important is that the immune responses [in the older group] tend to be less strong, particularly in the over 70’s, so we want to study that in great detail in that age group.”
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot believes their vaccine will bear fruit. He said:
“We are confident the vaccine will work. Question is whether it will completely clear the virus or stop patients from being sick. But being protected from being sick would already be a big plus.”
If successful, AstraZeneca and Oxford University will start first deliveries in the UK this September, with 1 billion doses of the vaccine produced by the end of 2021.
AstraZeneca and Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine May Return “No Result”
While the COVID-19 vaccine candidate of Oxford University and AstraZeneca has proved to be effective in the pre-clinical study, scientists warn it has a 50% chance of success and may return “no result”.
Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, said:
“It’s a race against the virus disappearing, and against time. We said earlier in the year that there was an 80% chance of developing an effective vaccine by September. But at the moment, there’s a 50% chance that we get no result at all.”
According to Hill, if the virus that causes COVID-19 is not spreading further, volunteers will not be able to catch it. In other words, scientists will have no proof of whether the vaccine actually makes any difference.
“We’re in the bizarre position of wanting COVID to stay, at least for a little while. But cases are declining.”
The coronavirus peak in the UK was in April, right around the time when Oxford and AstraZeneca were conducting the first trial of over 1,000 volunteers. In early June, they will release the crucial trial results.
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