Updated: February 6, 2021 10:26:47 am
The Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine has been found to be effective against the new variant that was first detected in the UK, according to the Oxford researchers who developed the vaccine, , called ChAdOx1-nCoV 19. A version of this vaccine — Covishield from Serum Institute of India — is currently being used (along with Covaxin, from Bharat Biotech) to immunise a target population in India.
Among the new virus variants, the one first detected in the UK in November, B.1.1.7, has been causing considerable concern because it has been found to spread quickly and because it was not clear at the time how well vaccines would work against it. Since then, however, a number of developers have announced that their respective vaccines are effective against the variant.
Pfizer published its findings on a preprint server (meaning that they are awaiting peer-review). Moderna announced on its website that its vaccine produced neutralising antibodies against B.1.1.7 as well as B.1.351 (first detected in South Africa). Now, Oxford researchers have published their findings on a preprint.
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The preprint also describes recent analysis showing that vaccination with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 results in a reduction in the duration of shedding and viral load, which may translate into a reduced transmission of the disease.
“Data from our trials of the ChAdOx1 vaccine in the United Kingdom indicate that the vaccine not only protects against the original pandemic virus, but also protects against the novel variant, B.1.1.7, which caused the surge in disease from the end of 2020 across the UK,” Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said in a statement released by Oxford.
The researchers’ conclusion is drawn from an analysis of swabs taken from volunteers who had enrolled for the original phase 2 and phase 3 trials of the vaccine. Between October 1 and January 14, the researchers used swabs taken from these volunteers — who had both symptomatic and asymptomatic infection — and investigated which strain of coronavirus they had been infected with after receiving either the vaccine, or the control. The analysis found that the protection against symptomatic infection was similar — despite lower titres of neutralising antibodies against the B.1.1.7 variant than against the original pandemic strain.
The Oxford paper does not mention the vaccine’s efficacy against the B.1.351 variant.
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