The Oxford coronavirus vaccine will be a “game changer” should it win approval from regulators, according to one expert, amid reports that it could be given the green light this week.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, developed with AstraZeneca, enough for the majority of people in the UK as each person needs two jabs.
That compares to the 40 million ordered of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, which also requires two doses per person.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told BBC Breakfast the Oxford vaccine would be a “game changer” because the huge amount of new doses it would make available.
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He also talked up its ease of storage. Although it can be stored at fridge temperature for less than a week, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine usually needs to be held at -70C to -80C and thawed out before use, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab can be stored between 2C and 8C.
“It can be stored at a more convenient temperature and it can therefore be moved around the country a lot more easily,” the respiratory disease expert said.
“This vaccine is very important because not only does it generate the antibodies that protect you from being infected, it also generates these ‘hunter killer cells’ – the T cells – that actually deal with infection.
“They help people who have some degree of infection, if a little bit of virus escapes and starts causing infection it can actually treat that disease as well in the people that have been vaccinated, so it’s a very, very good vaccine.”
There have been concerns that it might prove to be less effective than Pfizer’s and a vaccine from Moderna in the US.
However, speaking to The Sunday Times, AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot said: “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else.
“I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.”
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