COVID-19 vaccines might offer protection against severe disease even as coronavirus variants evolve to better allow continued transmission between people, the head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Andrew Pollard, said on Wednesday (February 3).
A joint study between Pollard’s University of Oxford and its pharmaceutical partner AstraZeneca said the vaccine had 76% efficacy against symptomatic infection for three months after a single dose, which increased if the second shot is delayed, backing Britain’s vaccine rollout policy.
The findings of the paper, published ahead of peer-review by Preprints with The Lancet, supported Britain’s decision to extend the interval between initial and booster doses of the shot to 12 weeks, Oxford said on Tuesday (February 2).
But Pollard said the study also demonstrates that there is good protection demonstrated between the first and second doses and that transmission of the virus by those who had received the vaccine was also significantly reduced.
Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, hailed the news after the vaccine’s efficacy had been called into question by people including French President Emmanuel Macron.
Hancock said the new research meant there was a high degree of confidence that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine works for all ages.
Some countries have said they would not give administer the shot to older age groups.
Pollard said that while the virus is likely to continue to mutate, it would be “relatively straightforward” to update the vaccines if they are found to be less effective against future variants.