Oxford and AstraZeneca announce their Covid vaccine is 70% effective

Oxford University has announced its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective at stopping the virus in clinical trials in another leap forward in the race to end the pandemic.

The UK has already pre-ordered 100million doses of the jab, which is expected to cost just £2 a time, and it can be stored cheaply in a normal fridge, unlike the other vaccines that showed similarly promising results last week. 

Oxford’s trials found that the jab has a nine in ten chance of working when administered as a half dose first and then a full dose a month later. This drops to 62 per cent when someone is given two full doses a month apart. 

The combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70.4 per cent, Oxford University/AstraZeneca said, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying millions of doses will be ready to go by the end of December. 

He told the BBC: ‘We hope to be able to start vaccinating next month. The bulk of the vaccine rollout programme will be in January, February, March. And we hope that sometime after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal.’

Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, hailed the discovery that a half-dose for the first jab makes it more effective, saying it means more people will be inoculated quicker because the vaccine will go further.

Early results from the trial also suggest it might be possible to stop the virus transmitting even among people who never get symptoms of the illness. Professor Pollard added that even the 70 per cent average efficacy is better than the flu vaccine usually is, so to achieve 90 per cent in some people was extremely promising.

The jab is viewed as Britain’s best chance of mass-inoculation of the population by the end of spring because Boris Johnson has ordered 100million doses.  

The Prime Minister tweeted today: ‘Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials. There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results. Well done to our brilliant scientists at @UniofOxford & @AstraZeneca, and all who volunteered in the trials’.

Oxford University/AstraZeneca said today they have found no serious Covid-19 cases among any of 20,000 people who received the jab in the UK and Brazil.   

Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna in the US have showed 95 per cent protection – but both have to be stored between minus 75C and minus 20C and are up to £24 more expensive per jab. 
A coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University can prevent 70.4% of people from getting Covid-19, data shows

A coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University can prevent 70.4% of people from getting Covid-19, data shows

Boris Johnson hailed the 'exciting news' about the Oxford vaccine's encouraging results. He has ordered 100m doses

Boris Johnson hailed the ‘exciting news’ about the Oxford vaccine’s encouraging results. He has ordered 100m doses

Scientists have also hailed the discovery that a half-dose for the first jab makes it more effective, saying it means more people can be inoculated because the vaccine will go further. 

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said that it was important to begin mass vaccinations as soon as possible.

‘The most important thing to get us back to normal is to use these vaccines – all of the vaccines that are going to be available – as soon as possible because once we have protected the vulnerable in the population we will be able to start getting back to normal,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘We have just got to get on with this as soon as possible.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier today: ‘This is really encouraging news on the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, that obviously we’ve been backing since the start. And I’m really very pleased, really welcome these figures, this data, that show that the vaccine in the right dosage can be up to 90% effective.

‘Of course, it’s vital that the independent regulator, the MHRA, will need to look at the data, will need to check to make sure that it’s effective and safe of course.

‘But we’ve got 100 million doses on order and should all that go well, the bulk of the rollout will be in the new year.’

He added: ‘And of course this vaccine, this homegrown vaccine, is easier to administer as well than the Pfizer vaccine, because it doesn’t need to be stored at minus 70.

‘So having two vaccines that appear to have effectiveness, done right, in the 90% range is really, really good news.’    

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said: ‘The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by (Covid-19).

‘We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world.’

The UK has placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine – enough to vaccinate most of the population – with rollout expected in the coming weeks if the jab is approved.

However, Oxford University/AstraZeneca say they have found no serious Covid-19 cases among any of 20,000 people who the received jab (a volunteer getting the injection in Brazil this year)

However, Oxford University/AstraZeneca say they have found no serious Covid-19 cases among any of 20,000 people who the received jab (a volunteer getting the injection in Brazil this year)

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial

Negative test will set you free: Boris Johnson to unveil £7billion daily covid screening revolution that will END ‘ineffective’ and ‘hated’ self-isolation scheme

Boris Johnson will today unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative, as he tried to head off a revolt by 70 of his own MPs.

The move will allow thousands to get back to normal life even if they have come into contact with an infected person.

Tens of millions of fast-turnaround tests will also be made available to areas put in the highest level of the new tiered system of Covid restrictions.

The announcement comes as Mr Johnson faces a major backbench rebellion, with 70 Tory MPs refusing to support new measures unless he proves they will work.  

It also has orders for 40 million doses of a jab from Pfizer and BioNTech, which has been shown to be 95% effective. Another jab from Moderna is 95% effective, according to trial data.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the results of an interim analysis of the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vacccine candidate were ‘very promising’.

The UK has placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine – enough to vaccinate most of the population – with rollout expected in the coming weeks if the jab is approved.

It also has orders for 40 million doses of a jab from Pfizer and BioNTech, which has been shown to be 95% effective.

Another jab from Moderna is 95% effective, according to trial data.

He tweeted: ‘Very promising data from the Oxford/AstraZeneca Phase III clinical trials. We are on the cusp of a huge scientific breakthrough that could protect millions of lives. The UK has secured early access to 100m doses of their vaccine – on top of 255m doses from other developers.’

AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot, said: ‘Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. 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.

‘Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.’

Today’s announcement comes just days after Oxford officially published the results of the second phase of its trial, which proved that it was working in elderly people and wasn’t causing any safety concerns.

At the time, the researchers behind the project could not say they were certain that the results revealed today would come before Christmas, although they were hopeful.

Professor Andrew Pollard said that he was ‘optimistic’ that the study would produce results showing how well it protected against Covid before Christmas. 

The following procedure for getting it licensed and then delivered to clinics, however, is ‘not under our control’ and could take weeks longer, he said, which would push the delivery into next year. 

Scientists behind the project published the results of an early trial of the jab, which found two doses created strong signs of immunity in 99 per cent of people across all age groups.

The second-phase study included 560 volunteers, most of whom were white and British, and showed that people across all age groups seemed to react equally well to the jab. It adds to data published in July suggesting it would work safely for under-55s. Studies of people with serious health conditions and other ethnicities are ongoing.

It marked another breakthrough in the race to develop a vaccine to prevent Covid, after jabs made by Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech were both revealed to be around 95 per cent effective within the past two weeks. 

It showed that the vaccine caused more side effects than a fake jab but that these were ‘mild’ and more common in young people than older participants. Within the first week after having the injection more than eight out of 10 under-55s said their arm hurt and and they later experienced tiredness, muscle aches or headaches. Experts explained this might just be because younger people’s immune systems are more active and likely to over-react. 

HOW DO THE OXFORD, MODERNA AND PFIZER/BIONTECH VACCINES COMPARE? 

Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have both released interim results of the final stage clinical trials of their vaccines, with both suggesting they are extremely effective. 

Oxford University has published the findings from its second phase, which show the jab provokes an immune response and is safe to use – it is not yet clear how well it protects against coronavirus in the real world.

Here’s how they compare: 

PFIZER (US) & BIONTECH (DE)

mRNA vaccine – Genetic material from coronavirus is injected to trick immune system into making ‘spike’ proteins and learning how to attack them.

mRNA vaccine – both Moderna’s and Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines work in the same way.

Recombinant viral vector vaccine – a harmless cold virus taken from chimpanzees was edited to produce the ‘spike’ proteins and look like the coronavirus.

94.5% effective (90 positive in placebo group, 5 positive in vaccine group) .

95% effective (160 positive in placebo group, 8 positive in vaccine group).

62% – 90% effective, depending on dosing.

Moderna confirmed it will charge countries placing smaller orders, such as the UK’s five million doses, between £24 and £28 per dose. US has secured 100million doses for $1.525billion (£1.16bn), suggesting it will cost $15.25 (£11.57) per dose.

The US will pay $1.95bn (£1.48bn) for the first 100m doses, a cost of $19.50 (£14.80) per dose.

Expected to cost £2.23 per dose. The UK’s full 100m dose supply could amount to just £223million.

UK has ordered five million doses which will become available from March 2021. Moderna will produce 20m doses this year, expected to stay in the US. 

UK has already ordered 40million doses, of which 10million could be available in 2020. First vaccinations expected in December.

UK has already ordered 100million doses and is expected to be first in line to get it once approved.

What side effects does it cause? 

Moderna said the vaccine is ‘generally safe and well tolerated’. Most side effects were mild or moderate but included pain, fatigue and headache, which were ‘generally’ short-lived. 

Pfizer and BioNTech did not produce a breakdown of side effects but said the Data Monitoring Committee ‘has not reported any serious safety concerns’.

Oxford said there have been no serious safety concerns. Mild side effects have been relatively common in small trials, with many participants reporting that their arm hurt after the jab and they later suffered a headache, exhaustion or muscle pain. More data is being collected.

Brace for Christmas shopping! The High Street re-opens next week with the end of national lockdown as Boris Johnson draws up plan for family ‘bubbles’ to gather for Christmas

Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today.

The Prime Minister will confirm that the second national lockdown in England is to end on December 2, when a new system of tiered Covid restrictions will be introduced.

He is also close to agreeing a UK-wide Christmas deal with Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and other devolved leaders that will allow families a chance to see some friends and loved ones.

The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today

Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today

The proposal would allow up to three households to gather for Christmas, provided they meet with no one else during this period. The respite will last for five days, beginning on Christmas Eve and running through to the Bank Holiday Monday on December 28.

Travel and overnight stays will be permitted across the UK to allow friends and families to unite for the Christmas break. But there will be no relaxation of the rules for New Year.

Government sources said last night that after England’s lockdown ends on December 2, non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen across the country in the hope that retailers can salvage part of their vital Christmas trade.

Gyms will be permitted to reopen in all tiers, and outdoor sport will be allowed to resume. But, under the plan signed off by the Cabinet last night, most of the country will be placed in the top two tiers, where the hospitality sector will remain subject to heavy restrictions.

Sources said ‘most people’ would be placed in tiers two and three, where all indoor socialising with other households will be banned – potentially until the spring.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday acknowledged that Christmas ‘is not going to be normal’, but said ministers wanted to give families some respite without risking a third wave of the virus.

Gyms will be permitted to reopen in all tiers, and outdoor sport will be allowed to resume

Gyms will be permitted to reopen in all tiers, and outdoor sport will be allowed to resume

Public Health England warned last week that five days of tougher restrictions would be needed for every day of relaxation over Christmas. But the Chancellor played down the warning, saying it was ‘difficult to be so precise’.

Police chiefs warned last week that they had no interest in trying to enforce the rules around family gatherings at Christmas. Government sources said the Prime Minister would appeal to people to show ‘common sense’ in ensuring that the Christmas relaxation does not spark a fresh surge in cases.

Mr Sunak said the new tiered system would be ‘tougher’ than the previous one. It is expected to last until the spring, when ministers hope the rollout of vaccines will allow life to start returning to normal. Ministers will announce on Thursday which areas of the country will go into which tiers.

Government scientists have warned that Tier One restrictions proved ineffective last month.

As a result, tens of millions of people will be placed in tiers two and three where much tougher restrictions apply. In Tier Three, pubs and restaurants can only offer takeaway services, people are banned from overnight stays outside the home and travel outside the local area is frowned on.

Downing Street last night said that mass testing would be made available in all Tier Three areas to help them catch infections early and slow the spread of the virus.

Johnson is also close to agreeing a UK-wide Christmas deal with Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and other devolved leaders that will allow families a chance to see some friends and loved ones

Johnson is also close to agreeing a UK-wide Christmas deal with Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and other devolved leaders that will allow families a chance to see some friends and loved ones

Mr Johnson will unveil the details of the plans to MPs this afternoon. In a message overnight, he said the UK was ‘not out of the woods’, but suggested there were reasons for cautious optimism.

‘The selflessness of people in following the rules is making a difference,’ he said. ‘The virus is not spreading nearly as quickly as it would if we were not washing our hands, maintaining social distance, wearing masks and so on. And in England, where nationwide measures came into effect at the start of this month, the increase in new cases is flattening off.

‘We are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still present in communities across the country, and remains both far more infectious and far more deadly than seasonal flu. But with expansion in testing and vaccines edging closer to deployment, the regional tiered system will help get the virus back under control and keep it there.’

The Government announced a further 341 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 54,626. 

Tests will offer freedom in SEVEN days: Boris Johnson is set to unveil plans for a £7billion coronavirus screening revolution in bid to cut self-isolation time by half 

Boris Johnson will tomorrow unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative.

The move will allow thousands to get back to normal life even if they have come into contact with an infected person.

Tens of millions of fast-turnaround tests will also be made available to areas put in the highest level of the new tiered system of Covid restrictions.

Boris Johnson will today unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative

Boris Johnson will today unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative

The scheme will deploy new ‘lateral flow tests’ which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes.

Ministers believe they could revolutionise the test and trace system, which has struggled to persuade people to self-isolate for the full 14 days.

Under a new system, those who come into contact with an infected person will be able to take a Covid test every day for a week.

If they test negative they will be able to go about their lives as normal. After seven days of negative tests they will be released from the system. Trials of the scheme will begin this week in Liverpool, where the Army has been helping to conduct the first mass testing of an entire city.

If successful, the project will be rolled out for NHS staff next month, before being made available to everyone from January.

Fast-turnaround tests will also be used to enable care home visits this winter. Downing Street last night confirmed that ministers hope to be able to allow residents to receive regular visits from two loved ones.

The scheme will deploy new ‘lateral flow tests’ which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes

The scheme will deploy new ‘lateral flow tests’ which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes

Named visitors will be tested twice a week. Negative tests will allow people to visit their loved ones and drop social distancing requirements. 

A Number 10 spokesman said: ‘Crucially, visitors will be able to have physical contact, such as a hug or holding hands with their loved ones.’

Trials have already begun in 20 care homes ahead of a national rollout planned for next month.

Care workers looking after people in their homes will also be offered weekly tests from today.

The mass testing initiative is part of a new Covid Winter Plan to be announced by the PM today.

It is expected to cost £7 billion, taking the total bill for NHS Test and Trace to £22 billion this year.

Ministers believe mass testing could play a critical role in enabling society to open up again in the coming months.

Plans are also being drawn up for the development of so-called ‘freedom passes’, which could allow people to attend events like live theatre and sport matches.

But these are not likely to be available until the New Year.

In the short term, the tests will be deployed mainly to help bring the pandemic under control.

Mass testing will be made available to all areas placed in the ‘very high risk’ category of the updated three-tier system the PM will roll out today.

Sources said trials in Liverpool had shown the tests had proved effective in detecting cases in people with no symptoms, helping to break the chain of transmission and bring down case numbers more quickly.

Weekly tests will also be made available to people in high risk occupations, including prisons and food processing plants.

Teams of people delivering the new vaccines in the coming months will also be eligible for regular testing.

Twice-weekly testing has already begun in the NHS to help identify asymptomatic cases and prevent outbreaks in hospitals.

Care home staff will have testing doubled from weekly to twice weekly from next month. Care home residents will be offered tests weekly rather than the current once a month.

Universities will also be offered testing capacity to test students wanting to travel home to their families at Christmas

Q&A

Will the lockdown continue?

No. Boris Johnson will confirm today the lockdown will end on December 2. It will be replaced by a system of regional restrictions in three tiers.

Will the tiers be the same as before?

No. The Government will revert to a three-tier system, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it will be ‘tougher’ than before the lockdown.

What were the tiers before?

Three tiers of restrictions operated in England. Tier One contained only national restrictions like the 10pm curfew and Rule of Six, under which gatherings of more than six people are illegal unless they are all from the same household or bubble. Tier Two added a ban on indoor socialising, while Tier Three restricted pubs and restaurants to providing a takeaway service and banned wedding receptions and overnight stays.

The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading

What will reopen when the lockdown ends?

Shops are expected to reopen to allow them some Christmas trade. Gyms will reopen and outdoor sport is likely to restart. Betting shops are likely to close in the higher tiers and hospitality venues will probably remain takeaway-only in parts of the country, with restrictions on houses mixing elsewhere.

Will I be able to see family and friends?

The Rule of Six will remain in place. Indoor socialising with other households will remain banned in the top two tiers and is likely to be restricted in the lowest tier as well.

What about Christmas?

Mr Johnson is pushing for a five-day break from the rules, during which time people from up to three different households would be allowed to mix.

How will they pick which tier my area goes into?

Ministers will announce on Thursday which tiers will apply to which parts of the country. The decision will depend on a range of factors, including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity and the local R-number – the rate at which the virus is spreading. But Government sources have said that ‘most people’ will be in the top two tiers.

Will 10pm curfew stay?

No. Pubs and restaurants will stop serving alcohol at 10pm, but customers will have until 11pm to drink up and leave.

How long will the new tier system last?

Government sources said it was expected to remain until spring. 

source: dailymail.co.uk

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