AstraZeneca faces more vaccine questions after manufacturing error


In a call with reporters on Wednesday, the USA vaccine czar Moncef Slaoui said they were reviewing AstraZeneca's vaccine data.

Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca on Thursday said it may conduct an additional study to validate concerns amid concerns over the efficacy of its vaccine.

However, experts have raised pointed questions in view of the way the results were declared and reported by the companies.

On Tuesday, Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca's Executive Vice President who heads up non-oncology research and development, first explained to Reuters that a lab error was the reason why some volunteers had received a smaller dose - the dose that proved to be 90% effective. Meanwhile, Moderna has said that it will also apply for Emergency Use Authorization and, if approved, could have its vaccine available by early January.

A third vaccine from United States firm Moderna is not far behind.

Unexpectedly, the vaccine worked better in the low dose group, at 90% efficacy, while the full dose group exhibited 62% efficacy.

Authorisation in some countries is still expected before the end of the year, he added.

South Korea's intelligence agency has foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, lawmakers said.

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A view of a vial of Russia's experimental Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.

From almost 8,000 active cases in August and more than 800 deaths in the Australian state of Victoria to the elimination of the coronavirus: It's an achievement that one Melbourne doctor says he thought was unthinkable only three months ago. The results are still very promising, and an additional trial is being done only to ensure that what was seen as a result of the accidental half-dosage is actually borne out when the vaccine is administered that way intentionally.

A day after the data was unveiled, the head of Operation Warp Speed, the USA vaccine program, said that the regimen showing the higher level of effectiveness was tested in a younger population. "We corrected the mistake and continued on with the study, with no changes to the study, and agreed with the regulator to include those patients in the analysis of the study as well". In the low-dose group, AstraZeneca said, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective. When it was apparent that a lower dose was used, it was discussed with regulators, and an agreement was reached to push ahead with the two regimens, Oxford said.

On Monday, scientists from Oxford University and AstraZeneca revealed that their vaccine had achieved an overall efficacy rate of 70 per cent in Phase III trials.

The Scottish government has published new guidance confirming the bubbles are limited to no more than eight people over the age of 11.

The move "marks a significant first step in getting the vaccine approved for deployment" if it meets safety, efficacy and quality standards, the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

AstraZeneca insisted that the extra trial would not delay the process of authorisation in the UK.