Speed Reads

Solving COVID

The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has 3 key advantages despite lower efficacy rate

The United Kingdom on Wednesday authorized the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for use, joining the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which has already been rolled out, as another tool in the country's massive vaccination drive. U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hanock said enough doses of both vaccines are on order to give the entire population two jabs, and he's "highly confident that we can get enough vulnerable people vaccinated by the spring that we can now see our route out of this pandemic."

Skeptics may want some caveats attached to that statement since the Oxford-AstraZenca vaccine had some mixed results in clinical trials. Data revealed earlier this month showed it was 62 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections, which is not as high as the roughly 95 percent efficacy rate attributed to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna candidates.

But the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot is nevertheless considered safe, and none of the volunteers developed a severe infection or were hospitalized, key metrics in determining the success of a vaccine. It also comes with a few key logistical advantages that could be a game-changer. It's cheap to produce, and unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doesn't require ultra-cold temperatures for storage, which will make vaccine distribution easier, especially to rural communities. Finally, the gap between the first and second dose of the vaccine can be as long as 12 weeks, which means more people in the U.K. can receive an initial dose at an earlier stage, giving them some form of protection before the second. Read more at Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.