The Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is barely simpler than that of Pfizer/BioNTech on some measures, the well being secretary has stated as he seized on new information and argued it ought to immediate different international locations to re-evaluate their strategy.
The examine, exhibiting a single shot of both vaccine cuts the chance of significant sickness by greater than 80%, is prone to pile strain on European governments the place politicians have forged doubts on the AstraZeneca jab’s efficacy based mostly on restricted early trial information. Take-up of the jab has fallen consequently.
The EU’s medical regulator authorised using the AstraZeneca vaccine for all age teams in January however the rollout met public scepticism as international locations together with France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Poland advisable it shouldn’t be used for over-65s due to an absence of information.
Talking alongside Matt Hancock at a Downing Road press convention on Monday, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, stated the brand new information “clearly vindicated” Britain’s strategy of giving doses to older age teams, whereas the well being secretary stated the UK had the very best regulator on this planet. Greater than 20 million folks within the UK have obtained a Covid vaccine.
On Monday, Public Health England (PHE) launched preliminary findings from greater than 7.5 million folks aged 70 and over in England exhibiting that each the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines supply dramatic safety from severe Covid infections.
A single dose of both jab is about 80% efficient at stopping hospitalisation and a single dose of Pfizer is 85% efficient at stopping demise with Covid-19, although there’s not but ample information on demise prevention for the Oxford jab. PHE’s examine, which is but to be peer reviewed, discovered both vaccine is greater than 80% efficient at stopping hospital admission round three to 4 weeks after the primary dose.
It confirmed that symptomatic Covid within the over-70s fell from round three weeks after one dose of each vaccines. Safety after growing signs fell 57-61% for one dose of Pfizer and 60- 73% for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the examine discovered.
Individuals who had been vaccinated with one shot of Pfizer had a 43% decrease danger of hospital admission and a 51% decrease danger of demise. For these vaccinated with the Oxford jab, there was 37% decrease danger of emergency hospital admission although there was inadequate follow-up information to evaluate the impression on demise.
Hancock stated he was delighted on the outcomes and signalled that EU international locations would possibly rethink their stance. “There are indicators that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is barely simpler than the Pfizer vaccine however the Pfizer vaccine on these information can be extraordinarily efficient,” he stated.
“So I completely hope that proper world wide, folks examine these information and perceive what they imply, which is that getting the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab or getting the Pfizer jab is the correct factor to do. And it might save your life.”
Van-Tam stated the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had taken the view that it was “not immunologically believable” the vaccine would work on youthful however not older age teams.
“I’m not right here to criticise different international locations however to say that I believe, in time, the information rising from our programme will communicate for itself and different international locations will probably be very excited by it,” he stated, in a remark described by Hancock as “very diplomatic”.
Van-Tam stated the information “provides us these first glimpses of how, if we’re affected person, and we give this vaccine programme time to have its full impact, it will hopefully take us into a really totally different world within the subsequent few months”.
After quite a lot of EU politicians raised considerations over the AstraZeneca vaccine, together with French president Emmanuel Macron, some EU international locations noticed shares of the jab pile up with residents unwilling to have the shot.
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel urged folks to belief the vaccine in a newspaper interview final week, regardless of German officers apparently briefing beforehand that the jab could also be ineffective within the over-65s. Merkel admitted there was “an acceptance downside with the AstraZeneca vaccine for the time being”. Carsten Watzl, head of the German Society for Immunology, urged Merkel to have the vaccine reside on TV to show it’s protected.
Final week, a Guardian investigation discovered that 4 out of 5 AstraZeneca vaccine doses delivered to EU international locations are but for use. Germany reported that it had administered simply over a fifth of its 1.4m doses. Spain has used just below a 3rd of its allocation and France has used 15% of its 1.1m doses of the vaccine.
Macron had stated the jab was “quasi-ineffective” for over-65s, a declare which was criticised as irresponsible. Nonetheless, final week Macron stated he would gladly settle for an AstraZeneca jab. “In view of the newest scientific research, the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been confirmed,” Macron stated. “My flip will come, however I’ve acquired time. If that’s the vaccine that’s provided to me, I’ll take it, in fact.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE head of immunisation, stated the brand new analysis “provides to rising proof exhibiting that the vaccines are working to cut back infections and save lives” however stated there was extra information to review. “It is very important keep in mind that safety is just not full and we don’t but understand how a lot these vaccines will scale back the chance of you passing Covid-19 on to others.”