The third Western-based COVID-19 vaccine, from AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford could have additional benefits over the first two companies’ versions and includes serious bargain pricing.
Representatives from AstraZeneca and Oxford said Monday their vaccine was as much as 90% effective in preventing infections without serious side effects, in large clinical trials.
Moderna Inc. and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were found to be more than 90% effective in their own late-stage trials, but the AstraZeneca-Oxford product looks more promising for the rest of the world.
With effectiveness from 62% to 90% depending on the dosage, they plan to distribute their vaccine at cost (around $3-4 per dose) and have committed to providing more than 1 billion doses to the developing world.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford partners say they will sell it without profit during the pandemic, while the price tags are higher for the Pfizer ($20) and Moderna ($32-37) vaccines. And there are other advantages.
“A particular strength of this vaccine is that it can be stored in a fridge,” said professor Azra Ghani, chair in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, in a Wall Street Journal story. “This means that it can be distributed around the world using existing delivery mechanisms.” The vaccine can also be stored at standard refrigeration levels for six months.
Moderna’s vaccine can be kept at that level for 30 days but then at -4 degrees, while Pfizer’s must be stored at -94 degrees, a difficult bar for developing countries.
According to the Journal, Chinese authorities have inoculated nearly 1 million Chinese people with a vaccine from one state company, though it has yet to provide solid clinical evidence of its efficacy. Russia has said its vaccine has an efficacy rate of above 90%.