AstraZeneca thinks shot can stop severe disease from South Africa COVID variant

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FILE PHOTO: AstraZeneca's logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration

LONDON (Reuters) - British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Saturday it believed its COVID-19 vaccine developed with the University of Oxford could protect against severe disease caused by the South African variant of the virus.

AstraZeneca confirmed that early data from a small trial, first reported by the Financial Times, had shown limited efficacy for the vaccine against mild disease primarily due to this variant.

"We do believe our vaccine could protect against severe disease, as neutralising antibody activity is equivalent to that of other COVID-19 vaccines that have demonstrated activity against more severe disease, particularly when the dosing interval is optimised to 8-12 weeks," a spokesman said in a statement.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Daniel Wallis)