U.K. Approves Covid-19 Vaccine Made by AstraZeneca, Oxford -- Update
By Joseph Walker and Jenny Strasburg
LONDON -- The U.K. authorized a Covid-19 vaccine developed by
the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC, opening the door for
the rollout of millions of doses in a country where infections have
surged amid a more infectious variant of the virus.
The green light represents the third emergency-use approval of a
Western-developed vaccine this month and comes as cases rise
sharply in the U.S. and Europe. A shot by Pfizer Inc. and Germany's
BioNTech SE and one by Moderna Inc. have both been cleared in the
U.S. and are being distributed there.
AstraZeneca's shot -- less effective in clinical trials than its
rivals' injections -- won't be available in the U.S. until the Food
and Drug Administration reviews large-scale trials still being
conducted there and decides to authorize its use.
The U.K. authorization comes as the country battles a new,
potentially more contagious variant of the coronavirus. The mutated
virus triggered travel bans recently on visitors and goods from
Britain, ratcheting up the political urgency for a speedy vaccine
rollout here. Pfizer's shot is already available in the U.K., where
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Dec. 21 that a half million of
the first of a two-dose regimen have been administered.
Scientists have said that the three Covid-19 vaccines authorized
so far should be similarly effective against the new British
variant as they have been in clinical trials, a view AstraZeneca
executives share, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The new variant could be as much as 70% more transmissible than
more established forms of Covid-19, government officials say.
Pfizer has promised the U.K. millions more doses by the end of
the year, but the AstraZeneca and Oxford shot -- made at facilities
in the country and elsewhere -- promises to quicken the rate of
inoculations by the country's state-run health-care system. The
National Health Service will determine which shot to provide people
depending on supply.
In clinical trials, the AstraZeneca vaccine proved to be
significantly less effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19
than the vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna. But it still exceeded a
key hurdle of 50% efficacy set earlier this year by regulators
including the FDA, established as a benchmark for emergency
authorization to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
Write to Joseph Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jenny
Strasburg at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 30, 2020 02:37 ET (07:37 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.