New Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 mutations could be available by October

pharmafile | February 5, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications AstraZeneca, COVID-19 

Oxford University and AstraZeneca could release a new vaccine by October in order to counter the new mutations of COVID-19 that have arisen in the UK recently.

Although their current vaccine appears to be effective against differing strains of the virus, there are concerns that its efficacy may have been weakened as a result.

A new vaccine would hope to combat the E484K mutation, which has appeared in both the variants that were first identified in Kent in South East England and South Africa. There are now more than 100 recorded cases in the UK.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford University vaccine group, said at a media briefing held by AstraZeneca: “I think the actual work on designing a new vaccine is very, very quick because it’s essentially just switching out the genetic sequence for the spike protein, for the updated variants.

“And then there’s manufacturing to do and then a small-scale study. So, all of that can be completed in a very short period of time, and the autumn is really the timing for having new vaccines available for use.”

Professor Pollard also suggested clinical trials of the new vaccine would only need to involve a few hundred people.

Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President of Biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said: “Our ambition is to be ready for the next round of immunisations that may be necessary as we go into next winter. That’s what we’re aiming for.

“We’re very much aiming to try and have something ready by the autumn.”

He added that the manufacturing process should be quicker by then due to plants being more familiar with the operation.

As of yesterday afternoon, 10,490,487 people have been vaccinated in the UK, using both the Oxford University-AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Jack Goddard

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