New results from Oxford University and AstraZeneca on the COVID-19 suggest that the vaccine is safe and about 70% effective, but questions remain about how good will it be for people over 55 — the main concern for a vaccine that most heath officials hope to depend on because of its low cost, availability, and ease of use.
Still, experts say the vaccine seems likely to be approved, despite some confusion in the results and lower levels of protection than what other vaccine candidates have shown.
Dr. Buddy Creech, a Vanderbilt University researcher helping to test two other vaccines said, “What we can see looks reasonable, but it’s a bit more complicated than what we’ve seen so far.”
“If this had been the first report out, the field would have still been excited to have a vaccine.”
The medical journal published results from the test of vaccines in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa — safety results on 23,745 participants and protection levels on 11,636.
Researchers claim the vaccine protected against disease in 62% of those given two full doses and 90% of those initially given the half dose. However, independent experts have said the second group was too small — 2,741 people — to judge the possible value of that approach and that more testing is needed.
The half-dose group also didn’t include anyone over 55, and among others in the study, only about 20% were in that age group.
It’s unclear if the results will be enough to lead regulators in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to approve its use right away.