AstraZeneca confirms COVID-19 vaccine offers strong protection after US rift

Virus Outbreak AstraZeneca
Posted at 10:30 AM, Mar 25, 2021

AstraZeneca says that its COVID-19 vaccine is strongly effective even after counting additional illnesses in its U.S. study.

The announcement late Wednesday was the latest in an extraordinary public dispute with American officials.

The drugmaker said it had analyzed more data from that study and concluded the vaccine is 76% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, instead of the 79% it had reported earlier in the week.

Just a day earlier, an independent panel that oversees the study had accused AstraZeneca of cherry-picking data to tout the protection offered by its vaccine. The panel said the company had left out some COVID-19 cases that occurred in the study, a move that could erode trust in the science.

AstraZeneca’s repeated missteps in reporting vaccine data coupled with a blood clot scare could do lasting damage to the credibility of a shot that is the linchpin in the global strategy to stop the coronavirus pandemic. Experts say it could even undermine vaccine confidence more broadly.

Last week, some countries temporarily paused inoculations of the AstraZeneca vaccines because of reports of the doses leading to blood clots. However, most have restarted after the European Medicines Agency said the vaccine doesn’t increase overall incidence of blood clots, though it did not rule out a connection to some rare clots.

Still, Danish officials have decided to extend their suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine by three weeks while they continue evaluating the vaccine’s potential link with blood clots.

The director of the Danish Health Authority says that when and if Denmark resumes using the AstraZeneca vaccine, people will be given the option of declining it for a different vaccine.