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AstraZeneca Announces 'Highly Effective' COVID-19 Vaccine

FILE PHOTO: Vials and medical syringe are seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: Vials and medical syringe are seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration

AstraZeneca said early Monday that clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in Britain and Brazil have shown it is “highly effective in preventing COVID-19" without “hospitalizations or severe cases of the disease” in any of the trial’s volunteers.

AstraZeneca tested two dosing regimens. One regimen had a vaccine efficacy of 90%. The second regimen has an average efficacy of 70%.

“More data will continue to accumulate, and additional analysis will be conducted, refining the efficacy reading and establishing the duration of protection,” Astra Zeneca said in a statement Monday.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives.” Professor Andrew Pollard, Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial at Oxford, said in a statement.”

AstraZeneca said it “will seek an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income countries. In parallel, the full analysis of the interim results is being submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.”

An AstraZeneca sign is seen at the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, Nov. 6, 2020.

On Sunday, countries begin laying out plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, with Germany and the United States preparing to vaccinate some populations as early as next month.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters Sunday that there “is reason to be optimistic” that a vaccine would be approved in Europe before the end of the year, and that after approval, vaccinations could begin “right away.”

The United States has set preliminary plans to begin vaccinating some groups as early as December 12, two days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to review the Pfizer vaccine.

At the G-20 summit this weekend, 20 of the world’s richest nations’ leaders vowed to work together to ensure that vaccines against COVID-19 will be made available to the most poor and vulnerable populations.

Leaders at G-20 Summit Vow to Make COVID Vaccine Widely Available
World leaders pledged to ‘spare no effort’ to ensure broad access to vaccine

In the U.S., health care workers, who have been hard-hit by COVID-19, would be among the first to receive the vaccine.

Almost 1,400 front-line health care workers in the U.S. have apparently died of COVID-19, according to a joint investigation by British newspaper, The Guardian, and Kaiser Health News. One-third of the dead health care workers were nurses, the study said.

Many of the health care workers, the report said, “are struggling with illness, trauma and exhaustion.”

More than 58 million people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus, the Johns Hopkins Resource Center reported Sunday.

The U.S. continues to lead the world in infections with more than 12 million cases, followed by India with 9 million infections and Brazil with 6 million.

The virus has claimed more than 1.3 million lives. More than a quarter million of those deaths were in the U.S.

Even though the coronavirus disease is surging, not everyone is eager to be vaccinated against it, according to a recent Ipsos poll. While 73% of those polled worldwide said they would be vaccinated, that number was 4 percentage points higher this summer.

The study found that “vaccination intent” declined in 10 of the 15 countries included in the poll. Intent went down the most in China, Australia, Spain and Brazil.

FILE - A booth displaying a coronavirus vaccine candidate from China National Biotech Group is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services, following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, China, Sept. 5, 2020.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Saturday authorized the emergency use of a COVID-19 antibody therapy that President Donald Trump said helped cure him of the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. therapy approved by the FDA is made up of the monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab. They are to be administered together to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults, including those 65 and older with some chronic medical conditions, and children who are at high risk of a more severe case.

The company expects to have enough of the treatment ready for about 200,000 patients by the first week of January.