A fourth coronavirus vaccine expected to become a player in the fight against COVID-19 when it’s submitted for emergency use authorization with the FDA in the next few weeks was studied in Cook County as part of that process.
New data released this week shows the AstraZeneca vaccine is 79% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection, and is 100% effective at preventing severe infection and hospitalization.
In the United States, Cook County was one of 88 “sites” used to study the vaccine on participants.
Cook County Health’s Dr. Temitope Oyedele, the principal investigator of the local trial, says more than 250 people participated, half of whom were minorities.
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“They told me stories about how they interacted with people that had confirmed COVID,” Oyedele said. “They didn’t get sick.”
The vaccine has been under intense scrutiny worldwide after reports of blood clots in patients who had received the treatment. Several European countries suspended its use, but most have resumed after further study.
“There were a very small number of cases that were reported. There really hasn’t been a proven link that this vaccine is what caused those,” Oyedele said. “If you hold any dose of AstraZeneca, around the world, it could be a potential life that is lost due to COVID.”
Three other vaccines are already being administered under emergency use authorizations in the U.S.: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Both Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA) to produce an immune response.
Both require two doses, three to four weeks apart, and are at least 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine doesn’t use mRNA and could be an option for those with allergies to the first two. It’s a viral vector vaccine, technology that’s been studied since the 1970s. It requires just one shot and is 72% effective in the U.S. at preventing COVID-19 infection.
AstraZeneca uses similar viral vector technology to produce an immune response in the body but requires two shots 12 weeks apart, and has been found to be 79% effective against infection.
More importantly, studies showed all four of these vaccines were 86% to 100% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 infection and hospitalization.
The company is expected to submit an application for emergency use authorization in April, but it is unclear when that application will take place.