Top Dutch coronavirus vaccine purchase, AstraZeneca, claims 95% efficacy
The CEO of AstraZeneca said that it has figured out how to administer its Covid-19 vaccine in a way that makes it as powerful against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus as its top competitors. The vaccine candidate could be used to inoculate nearly 6 million people in the Netherlands next year if approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), making it the most readily available coronavirus vaccine in the country.
The latest research shows that the vaccine was successful in preventing Covid-19 in 95 percent of cases, instead of the 62-90% range they previously reported. “We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” said AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot to The Sunday Times.
“I can't tell you more because we will publish at some point." Soriot said over the weekend. In November, research showed that injecting a patient with the vaccine twice separated by a month was 62 percent effective, but when that first injection was a half-dose it was 90 percent effective.
By comparison, a vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech approved by the EMA earlier this month, rated at 95% effective. A Moderna product still under evaluation came in at 94.5 percent.
The Netherlands is expected to obtain 4.5 million doses of AstraZeneca during the first quarter if it is approved by the EMA in January, according to an updated timetable Health Minister Hugo de Jonge sent to Parliament last week. The country would also receive 5.2 million more doses during the second quarter of the year, followed by an additional two million over the summer. Like Pfizer and Moderna, two doses are likely to be required per person for full efficacy.
Where the Netherlands was anticipating delivery of a total of 11.7 million doses from AstraZeneca by October, it has pre-purchased 8.4 million doses from Pfizer, and 3.1 million from Moderna. The country has not yet made a deal with AstraZeneca and Pfizer for the fourth quarter, but should receive another 3.1 million doses from Moderna at the end of next year.
The AstraZeneca product can be kept at normal refrigerator temperatures, but the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at about -70 degrees Celsius until a few days before it is administered making it more complicated to distribute. This makes it more likely that the AstraZeneca product can be sent directly to family doctors, nursing homes and other care facilities, in addition to the 25 centralized mass vaccination points set up by municipal health service GGD. The Moderna candidate is also easier to distribute.
The EMA will give its findings and possibly its approval of the Moderna vaccine on January 6. It could issue its ruling on the AstraZeneca product during the last half of January if researchers submit final documentation by the end of the year.