U.S. not rushing into to approval of AstraZeneca Covid -19 vaccine despite severe shortages

In the fall the U.K. medical regulatory affairs group approved the AstraZeneca (AZNCF) Covid-19 vaccine, to try and meet the needs of the a nation where the spread of the virus was wildly out of control given the UK’s severe lock downs and mask mandates. Apparently the UK was reportedly willing to accept a 62% in efficacy in the elderly population , which was far below the efficacy of the Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna vaccines approved in the US.

Moderna Therapeutics based in Cambridge MA, is working to create mRNA medicines for a wide range of diseases and conditions. These include potential new mRNA medicines for treating infectious diseases, cancer, rare diseases and cardiovascular disease.”

Consequently in the U.K. and in the EU there have been continued and unclear at times problems, including irregularities in dosing. Initially the U.K. reported some unwanted side effects, which slowed down the US FDA Phase III trials.

Subsequently, unclear and possibly statistically unreliable data from Germany have reported Astra-Zeneca’s Covid vaccine efficacy was as low as 10% in adults over 65 years old. Yet the UK’s independent vaccine advisory committee had supported use of the vaccine in that particular age group. The University of Oxford who co-developed the vaccine said there was no basis for claims of low efficacy.

Even with all this information, a decision about whether to approve the vaccine in the European Union is expected possibly as soon as this week.

There were high hopes for this vaccine initially, but it was surpassed by both Pfizer and Moderna. The AstraZeneca vaccine had some serious benefits in relation to the other vaccines in that it can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures, and the price is lower than the competition. One of the criticisms and weaknesses in the roll out of the Pfizer vaccine is once out of the required -70 degrees it has a very short shelf life and is wasted making the global shortage of vaccine worse.

Science and Health Writer