Oxford vaccine boss says jab ‘should’ work against fast-spreading mutant strain

AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot believes that his company’s Covid-19 vaccine “should” be effective against the new mutant strain of the virus that has most of the UK under Tier 4 lockdown.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is cheaper and easier to store and transport than its Pfizer rival, and is seen by many as the best hope for a return to normal life early in 2021.

It is thought it could be approved within days and may very well end lockdowns for most of next year.

When asked about the fast-moving new coronavirus variant, Pascal said: “So far, we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can’t be sure, so we’re going to test that.”

“I can’t remember in my entire career working as hard as [I did in] 2020."

In an interview with the Sunday Times the French-born company boss said AstraZeneca researchers have hit upon the “winning formula” to beat the coronavirus pandemic.

At present, the UK has 100 million doses of the Astra vaccine on order and is awaiting approval from the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] before distributing them.

A government spokesperson said “We must now give the MHRA the time to carry out its important work and we must wait for its advice.”

In tests, the Astra vaccine was around 95% effective – roughly equal to the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna which have reported effectiveness of 95% and 94.5% respectively.

The successful results are based on volunteers being given a half dose followed by a full dose. Soriot adds that the Astra vaccine provides “100% protection” against the most severe symptoms of coronavirus which leave a patient requiring hospital treatment.

But managing the development of the lifesaving jab has required long hours far from home. Mr Soriot, 61, said he has spent much of the past year alone with his cat, Daisy while his family remained in Australia.

And he has a word for people who have complained that the development of the vaccine hasn’t been fast enough, or effective enough”

“So many people have opinions on what we do,” he added. “The reality is, until you are in charge, you really don’t know. Things are always complicated.”

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