(Reuters) – British drugmaker AstraZeneca AZN.L Its vaccine, developed on Saturday with Oxford University, provided only limited protection from mild disease caused by the South African version of COVID-19, based on preliminary data from the trial.
According to a Financial Times report published earlier in the day, studies from the University of Witwatersand and Oxford University in South Africa showed that the vaccine had significantly reduced efficacy against the South African version.
Currently the coronovirus variants for scientists and public health experts are the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants, which spread more rapidly than others.
An AstraZeneca spokesperson quoted the FT report as saying, “In this small phase I / II trial, preliminary data have shown limited efficacy against mild disease mainly due to the B.1.351 South African version.”
The newspaper said that none of the more than 2,000 test participants were hospitalized or died.
“However, we have not been able to properly detect its impact against critical illness and hospitalization, as the subject was primarily young healthy adults,” said a spokesperson for AstraZeneca.
The company said it believed that its vaccine could protect against serious disease, noting that neutral antibody activity was comparable to other COVID-19 vaccines that have demonstrated protection from critical illness.
The FT said the trial, which included 2,026 people, half of which formed the placebo group, has not been reviewed.
While there have been thousands of different changes, according to the British Electrical Journal, as the virus changes to a new form, only a small minority is likely to be significant or to alter the virus in an appreciable way.
“Oxford University and AstraZeneca have begun adopting the vaccine against this variant and will move rapidly through clinical development so that it is ready for autumn.
On Friday, Oxford stated that their vaccine has the same efficacy as the British coronovirus variant as it has for the already running variants.
Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Timothy Heritage, Daniel Wallis and David Gregorio