More good news as AstraZeneca finds a third Covid vaccine

Another week, another Covid-19 vaccine. This one from AstraZeneca and Oxford University is homegrown and ready to roll out fast. Matthew Partridge reports

The good news keeps coming on the vaccine front, says Lex in the Financial Times – this time with positive results from AstraZeneca. The overall tally was “underwhelming”: the treatment’s average efficacy of 70% was “significantly less” than the figure achieved by the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. But the best results, of 90% efficacy, were achieved for participants who only received half of the first of two doses. This suggests that “more people can get a shot with the same amount of vaccine”. AstraZeneca has already agreed deals with drugmakers in Russia, Brazil and India to produce up to three billion doses.

Despite this apparent success, the market has punished AstraZeneca, with the drug giant’s shares falling by 3.8% when the news was announced, says Nils Pratley in The Guardian. Part of this is due to the need to explain the “wide gap” between the 62% efficiency in the main study and 90% for those who received the half-dose, full dose regime. AstraZeneca’s pledge “to distribute the vaccine at cost during the course of pandemic” also means that it “won’t make profits from the initial orders”. Still, it’s impossible to deny that a 90% efficiency rate in one study is “excellent”.

Near-perfect protection

The near-perfect level of protection is particularly impressive given the way the trial was conducted, says The Economist. While the numbers of people involved were smaller than in rival studies, AstraZeneca repeatedly tested all those involved in the trial to pick up asymptomatic infections. As a result, the efficiency of AstraZeneca’s jab is not necessarily worse than that of Pfizer and Moderna, who relied on people self-reporting symptoms, followed by a confirmatory test. This is important because those who are asymptomatic can still pass on the virus to others, so AstraZeneca’s jab may ultimately reduce the transmission of the virus. The interim results “will certainly please the UK government”, says Ross Clark in The Spectator. Not only is it a “homegrown” vaccine, developed from research carried out by the University of Oxford, and part-funded by the state, but the UK has also ordered 100 million shots. What’s more, the facts that the vaccine itself “is less than a fifth of the price of the Pfizer vaccine” and can be “kept at ordinary fridge temperatures” will greatly facilitate a roll-out, as well as making it the “obvious choice” for developing countries.

While Britain and America have ordered enough doses for their entire populations, most young and able-bodied people in other countries “may have to wait until 2022 to be vaccinated”, even with multiple vaccines, says Aimee Donnellan on Breakingviews. That means that many unvaccinated people could “keep avoiding public transport and mass gatherings”, which will “put a cap on any recovery in corporate profitability”.

Recommended

Just how powerful is artificial intelligence becoming?
Tech stocks

Just how powerful is artificial intelligence becoming?

An uncannily human response from an artificial intelligence program sparked a minor panic last month. But just how powerful are machines getting – and…
2 Jul 2022
Persimmon yields 12.3%, but can you trust the company to deliver?
Share tips

Persimmon yields 12.3%, but can you trust the company to deliver?

With a dividend yield of 12.3%, Persimmon looks like a highly attractive prospect for income investors. But that sort of yield can also indicate compa…
1 Jul 2022
The MoneyWeek Podcast: nuggets of positivity in an extended bear market
Investment strategy

The MoneyWeek Podcast: nuggets of positivity in an extended bear market

Merryn and John talk about he need for higher wages and lower house prices, and why the fact that this is the least dramatic bear market they’ve ever …
1 Jul 2022
Here are the best savings accounts on the market now
Savings

Here are the best savings accounts on the market now

With inflation at more than 9%, your savings are not going to keep pace with the rising cost of living. But you can at least slow the rate at which yo…
1 Jul 2022

Most Popular

UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?
House prices

UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?

UK house prices hit a fresh high in June, but as interest rates start to rise, the market is cooling John Stepek assesses just how much of an effect h…
30 Jun 2022
The ten highest dividend yields in the FTSE 100
Income investing

The ten highest dividend yields in the FTSE 100

Rupert Hargreaves looks at the FTSE 100’s top yielding stocks for income investors to consider.
22 Jun 2022
The ten highest dividend yields on Aim
Income investing

The ten highest dividend yields on Aim

Rupert Hargreaves picks the highest-paying dividend stocks on Aim, London’s junior market for small and medium-sized growth companies.
29 Jun 2022