A coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University, in collaboration with the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, can stop 70% of people from getting Covid-19, latest data shows.
The UK government has already ordered 100m doses of the vaccine – called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.
Key findings include:
One dosing regimen was shown to be 90% effective, the other 62%
It was shown to work in different age groups, including the elderly
The vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at 2-8 degrees Celsius for at least eight months
Manufacturing of the vaccine has already begun in anticipation of positive results, said health secretary Matt Hancock
It is hoped 3bn doses of the vaccine could be supplied around the world by the end of 2021
Interim analysis from the latest phase three trial shows an average efficacy of 70.4% from combining two doses.
When one full dose was followed by another full dose, it gave 62% efficacy.
But when only half a dose was given followed by a full dose, a much higher 90% effectiveness was achieved.
Professor Andrew Pollard, who is leading the vaccine trial, said the results would “save many lives”.
In a statement, he said: “Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply.
“Today’s announcement is only possible thanks to the many volunteers in our trial, and the hard working and talented team of researchers based around the world.”
The vaccine is made from a genetically engineered virus and resumed its combined phase 2/3 trial in the UK after a brief pause in September.
Findings from the first phases of the study earlier this year showed “promising” results which suggested the vaccine is “safe and causes few side effects” for healthy adults aged 18-55.
The phase two research demonstrated a strong immune response in older adults – suggesting one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid-19 could build immunity.
The vaccine was developed at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Jenner Institute and is made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. It is based on earlier work to produce a treatment for MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus).
The chimpanzee virus is modified and engineered to express the coronavirus spike protein so it “looks” more like coronavirus to trigger a strong immune response in the human body.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said manufacturing has already started, with the NHS on stand-by to start delivering the vaccine from December.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “That’s right, the NHS is on stand-by to be ready as soon as this can be manufactured.
“The manufacturing process for vaccines is also hard, this isn’t a chemical that you make, this is a biological compound, a biological product, so it has to be manufactured of course.
“That manufacturing has already started in anticipation of these results coming through positively.
“The NHS is on stand-by to start delivering the vaccine from next month. It’s going to be a huge effort, I think everybody knows, but the NHS will be ready.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson said the latest news on the Oxford vaccine was “incredibly exciting”.
Business secretary Alok Sharma also tweeted: “Very promising data from the Oxford/AstraZeneca Phase III clinical trials.
“We are on the cusp of a huge scientific breakthrough that could protect millions of lives.
“The UK has secured early access to 100m doses of their vaccine – on top of 255m doses from other developers.”
Professor Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said: “The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by SARS-CoV-2.
“We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators.
“It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world.”