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AstraZeneca’s ‘mistake’ in COVID-19 vaccine trials could halt approval

PHOTO CREDITS: ARISE NEWS

AstraZeneca’s Coronavirus vaccine is coming under intense scrutiny after its UK scientists made a major “mistake'” during trials – one that could even halt it from getting approved, according to reports.

The UK drugmaker and its partner Oxford University admitted – after reporting its vaccine tested up to 90 effective summing up primary and booster doses – that the promising results came after a batch of volunteers were accidentally given a half dose. The efficacy of the vaccine was exceptionally lower at 62 percent for those who received the correctly administered two full doses.

Lead researcher Mene Pangalos insisted it was “serendipity,” but the error, which was not reported in the initial findings, has brought the vaccine under intense scrutiny from scientists and industry experts. The half-dose group just strengthened 2,741 volunteers, and all were under 55, raising the question as to whether the relative youth of the participants created a productive conclusion, not the size of the dose. “It pains me to say this but… I think the claims made for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are on ‘very shaky’ ground. We should wait for a solid large trail,” scientist Hilda Bastian tweeted after the testers’ confusion.

Chemist Derek Lowe said the revelations put the UK vaccine makers “in a bit of a bind. They have solid data for a relatively weaker vaccine and weaker data for a relatively strong one,” he warned of the low numbers accidentally given the half-dosage. “This is really not handled well at all… it’s a good thing this wasn’t the first vaccine to read out,” he added, referring to the earlier vaccine test announcements from Pfizer and Moderna. “Hard to believe that the FDA will issue emergency usage for a vaccine whose optimal dose has only been given to 2,300 people,” Dr. John LaMattina tweeted. “More data for this dosing regimen will be needed.”

The error and confusion over results caused share in the company to degrade 6.2 percent as industry experts also lose confidence, according to Bloomberg News. “Anytime you have confusion in trails it’s not a good thing because it effectively removes any kind of credibility you had,” Ketan Patel, a fund manager at EdenTree investment management said. Some experts even said the reason behind the less efficacy of this vaccine is due to using ‘wrong technology’. Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology for their vaccine which triggers memory and killer cells while AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine uses weakened common cold virus to build immune-response.

According to experts, steps regarding this should be prioritised as many developing nations are dependent on AstraZeneca’s Coronavirus vaccine else the situation is not going to revamp. A spokesman for AstraZeneca told Bloomberg that the trials were conducted “to the highest standards” and more analysis is being done to refine the efficacy reading.”

ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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