AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Safe, 79 Percent Effective in U.S. Trial

An AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at the local vaccination center in Hagen, Germany, March 19, 2021. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was 79 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease and 100 percent effective against severe disease and hospitalization in a new U.S.-based clinical trial, the company announced on Monday. 

Experts did not find any safety concerns related to the vaccine, including any increased risk of rare blood clots that have raised concern in Europe.

A number of European countries, including Norway, France and Denmark, have temporarily suspended distribution of the vaccine in recent weeks following reports of blood clotting in patients who had received the shots.

However, in addition to the new Phase 3 trial’s findings, an emergency investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last Thursday found that the vaccine is “safe and effective” in preventing coronavirus and “not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events, or blood clots.”

An independent committee “found no increased risk of thrombosis or events characterized by thrombosis among the 21,583 participants receiving at least one dose of the vaccine,” according to AstraZeneca. 

The new data came from a trial conducted in the U.S., Chile and Peru that included more than 32,000 adult volunteers. AstraZeneca says it will submit the findings to a scientific journal for peer review.

Ruud Dobber, president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit, said Monday on CNBC that the company plans to apply for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next month. If the company receives the authorization, its COVID vaccine would become the fourth available in the U.S.

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