AstraZeneca Vaccine Protection Level Just 10% Against South African COVID-19 Variant

By Reuters Staff

March 17, 2021

(Reuters Health) - The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine developed with the University of Oxford has an efficacy of only 10.4% against the South African variant of the virus, according to data published online Wednesday by The New England Journal of Medicine.

In the test on 2,026 HIV-negative volunteers, mild-to-moderate disease caused by any type of SARS-CoV-2 appeared in 2.5% of vaccine recipients versus 3.2% of placebo patients. That's an overall efficacy of 21.9% after two doses

None of the volunteers developed severe disease or needed to be hospitalized, including in the placebo group.

Just over 95% of the illnesses were caused by the South African variant, known as B.1.351.

But when the research team, led by Shabir Madhi of the University of the Witwatersrand, looked exclusively at the people sickened by that variant, they calculated that the vaccine's efficacy was just 10.4%.

Before variants of the virus appeared in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, the vaccine was judged to have an overall efficacy of 66.7%.

"The trial findings are inconclusive with respect to whether (the vaccine) may protect against severe COVID-19 caused by infection with the B.1.351 variant," the researchers said.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3lneIAs The New England Journal of Medicine, online March 16, 2021.

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