Oxford trial chief says Covid vaccine could be ready at a similar time to others

Staff at CSL are seen working in the lab on Nov. 8 in Melbourne, Australia. CSL will begin manufacturing AstraZeneca-Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine from Monday.Darrian Traynor | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesLONDON — The coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca could still be made available at a similar time to the other leading candidates, according to the head of Oxford’s vaccine trial.The comments come shortly after a peer-reviewed analysis of phase two trials, published Thursday, showed the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot triggered a robust immune response in older adults.The findings have raised hopes that it may be able to protect age groups most at risk from Covid-19.Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said that the researchers were “really delighted” with the findings, adding he was “optimistic” phase three data would be made available before Christmas.Early results from the phase three trials will determine the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.Separately, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have already published preliminary data from their respective phase three trials, and both have proven to be highly protective against Covid-19 infection.Drugmakers and research centers are scrambling to deliver a vaccine to help bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 1.3 million lives so far.”We are not in a rush and it is not a competition with the other developers. What we are trying to do is to make sure that we have very high-quality data, working with our partners in the other countries, and to be able to present the results of the trial,” Pollard said during an online media briefing on Thursday.”As far as the timing of that, it is going to be when it is ready.”The next step of the process, Pollard explained, would be to provide regulators with all of their data and await a decision on licensing.”If that process happens in due haste and speed that is appropriate in the pandemic, then it is possible that things could line up so there is not very much difference in timing between the various different vaccines,” he said.”I think in order to understand exactly which one will happen when, we need to have a lot more information that I don’t have about when, for example, Pfizer or Moderna will deliver their first doses.””It’s uncertain from where I see things, it will be other people who need to answer that,” Pollard said.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC earlier this week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would move as “quickly as possible” to clear Pfizer and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines for emergency use.Huge challenges remain before any vaccine can be rolled out, however. The global battle to secure prospective supplies has raised alarm about equitable access, while questions remain over logistics, distribution, and cost.

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