The ASX 200 looks set to push higher on Tuesday after AstraZeneca revealed positive data from its COVID-19 vaccine trials…
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It looks set to be another positive day of trade for the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) on Tuesday after a third COVID-19 vaccine candidate was shown to be effective.
At the time of writing, SPI futures are pointing to the ASX opening the day 31 points or 0.5% higher this morning.
What is the new vaccine candidate?
Overnight British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca revealed that data from an interim analysis of clinical trials showed that its vaccine, AZD1222, had an average efficacy of 70% in protecting against COVID-19.
This follows recent updates by both Pfizer and Moderna which showed that their vaccines are 95% effective against the virus.
While 70% might not sound amazing, it is worth noting that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being developed in collaboration with Oxford University and is not-for-profit, was assessed over two different dosing regimens.
When trial participants were given a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart, the vaccine showed an effectiveness of 90%. Whereas, when given as two full doses at least one month apart, the vaccine showed just 62% efficacy.
Pleasingly, no hospitalisations or severe cases of the disease were reported from trial participants.
Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial at Oxford, Professor Andrew Pollard, commented: “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply.”
This sentiment was echoed by AstraZeneca’s Chief Executive Officer, Pascal Soriot.
He said: “Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency. Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.”
AstraZeneca will now immediately prepare regulatory submission of the data to authorities around the world that have a framework in place for conditional or early approval. It will also seek an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income countries.
Management notes that it is making rapid progress in manufacturing with a capacity of up to 3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021 on a rolling basis, pending regulatory approval.
Pleasingly, the vaccine can be stored, transported, and handled at normal refrigerated conditions for at least six months and administered within existing healthcare settings. This compares favourably to the Pfizer vaccine which needs to be kept at extremely cold temperatures.
The biotech giant has separate contracts with AstraZeneca and the Australian Government to manufacture approximately 30 million doses of the AZD1222 vaccine candidate. The first doses are planned for release in the first half of 2021, pending the outcome of clinical trials and regulatory approval.
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