AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine up to 90% effective

London: The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said Monday that its Covid-19 vaccine could be up to 90 percent effective in preventing the disease.

“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,” CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement.

The AstraZeneca candidate was 70 percent effective on average, with up to 90 percent efficacy in a smaller group that got a lower dosage. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech and Moderna have each reported vaccines that were 95 percent effective in clinical trials. Different trial designs make direct comparison complicated, but even with somewhat lower protection, the AstraZeneca vaccine may be a more realistic option for much of the world, as it is likely to be less expensive and does not need to be stored at subzero temperatures.

The creators of the vaccine, which uses a weakened version of a common cold virus, said it could be administered in existing health care settings, such as medical clinics and local pharmacies, and stored at refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months, making its distribution easier.

The fact that a vaccine can be stored in ordinary refrigerators is “of enormous importance for low-income countries” to ensure the vaccine can be efficiently delivered around the globe.

The 90 percent efficacy resulting from using half a dose initially may better mimic what happens during a real infection, Sarah Gilbert, a professor at the University of Oxford, one of the lead researchers, said in a press conference following the announcement.