US data shows AstraZeneca jab effective for all ages

AP — AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection against disease and complete protection against hospitalisation and death across all age groups in a late-stage United States (US) study, the company announced yesterday

AstraZeneca said its experts also identified no safety concerns related to the vaccine, including a rare blood clot that was identified in Europe. Scientists found no increased risk of clots among the more than 20,000 people who got at least one dose of the AstraZeneca shot.

Although AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been authorised in more than 50 countries, it has not yet been given the green light in the US. The US study comprised more than 30,000 volunteers, of whom two-thirds were given the vaccine while the rest got dummy shots.

In a statement, AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine had a 79 per cent efficacy rate at preventing symptomatic COVID and was 100 per cent effective in stopping severe disease and hospitalisation. Investigators said the vaccine was effective across all ages, including older people which previous studies in other countries had failed to establish.

“These findings reconfirm previous results observed,” said Ann Falsey of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, who helped lead the trial. “It’s exciting to see similar efficacy results in people over 65 for the first time.”

Julian Tang, a virologist at the university of Leicester who was unconnected to the study, described it as “good news” for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The earlier United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa trials had a more variable and inconsistent design and it was thought that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would never approve the use of the vaccine on this basis, but now the US clinical trial has confirmed the efficacy of this vaccine in their own clinical trials,” he said.

The early findings from the US study are just one set of information AstraZeneca must submit to the FDA. An FDA advisory committee will publicly debate the evidence behind the shots before the agency decides whether to allow emergency use of the vaccine.

Scientists have been awaiting results of the US study in hopes it will clear up some of the confusion on how well the shots really work.