The University of Oxford on Friday said that its coronavirus vaccine, developed jointly with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, offers similar protection against the United Kingdom variant as it does to other mutations. The UK variant, first discovered in Kent, southern England, is more transmissible than other mutations.
The findings, released in a preprint paper and have not yet been peer-reviewed, also said recent analysis showed that vaccination with the shot results in a reduction in the duration of shedding and viral load, which can translate into a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,” Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said.
Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology, who is also the chief investigator on the trial, said that although the vaccine had shown efficacy against the UK variant, it may need to be adapted for a future mutation, according to Reuters.
“We are working with AstraZeneca to optimise the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary,” Gilbert said.
The UK variant had led to a spike in coronavirus infections in Britain, prompting the authorities to impose a countrywide lockdown. Many countries, including India, had also imposed a temporary travel restriction.
The lockdown came as Britain was rolling out the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. So far, the UK has given either Oxford or Pfizer’s vaccines to more than 1 crore people.
Earlier in the week, Pollard cited a study to say that the shots produced good immune responses in older people even if there was lack of data about its exact efficacy. The Oxford vaccine offers 76% effective protection from a single dose for three months. When the second dose was given, the study found that the level of protection from the vaccine increased to 82%.
The UK has so far reported 39,03,706 Covid-19 cases and 1,10,462 deaths, according to John Hopkins University.