Newly released data shows that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is highly effective in preventing the virus. In light of this morning's news, Prince William hopped on a video call with Oxford researchers, congratulating them on their achievement.
On the call were Professor Andy Pollard, Professor of Pediatric Infection and Immunity, Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology, and Professor Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of Oxford University. The Duke of Cambridge heard a bit about the group's work combatting the coronavirus pandemic and expressed his gratitude for their commitment.
"Well done, I’m so pleased for all of you, I really am," the Duke said. "I saw it in everyone’s faces back in June how much time and effort was going into this, and I could see that there was a lot of pressure on everyone, so I’m so thrilled that you’ve cracked it—so really well done."
Prince William is referencing his June visit to the Oxford Vaccine Group at Churchill Hospital. There, he saw first-hand the efforts going into creating the vaccine and spoke highly of the "incredibly exciting and fascinating" work being done at the hospital.
That research indeed paid off. AstraZeneca announced that interim data from this new vaccine suggests 70% protection, but the percentage may be as high as 90% after tweaking the dose. This discrepancy comes from 62% efficacy rates in the first trial group, which received two full doses of the vaccine, but 90% efficacy rates in the second group, which received a half-sized first dose and a full-sized second dose. The two groups average out to 70% efficacy, but nobody in either group developed severe COVID symptoms or needed hospitalization.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine announcement comes after both Pfizer and Moderna produced vaccines delivering 95% protection from COVID-19. The crucial part of the Oxford vaccine, however, is its accessibility—this vaccine is both cheaper and easier to store than either of the others. These characteristics will make it easier for low-income countries to distribute the vaccine, alongside wealthy countries.
"This vaccine should do what we always wanted it to do. We wanted a vaccine for the world—not just for high income countries, not just for this country," noted Gilbert. "We're not safe until we're all safe."
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