‘Oxford vaccine less effective against South African variant’


The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine fails to prevent mild and moderate cases of the South African coronavirus strain, according to research reported in the Financial Times.

But in its study, due to be published on Monday, the pharma group said it could still have an effect on severe disease — although there is not yet enough data to make a definitive judgment.

None of the 2,000 participants in the trial developed serious symptoms, the FT said, but AstraZeneca said the sample size was too small to make a full determination.

“We may not be reducing the total number of cases but there is still protection against deaths, hospitalisations and severe disease,” said Sarah Gilbert, who led the development of the vaccine with the Oxford Vaccine Group.

It could also be “some time” before they determine its effectiveness for older people in fighting the strain, which is a growing presence in U.K., she said.

Researchers are currently working to update the vaccine, and “have a version with the South African spike sequence in the works” that they would “very much like” to be ready for the autumn, said Ms. Gilbert.

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