International - February 11, 2021

Listen to this article

The World Health Organization recommends using the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca even in countries tackling new variants of coronavirus.

Some new forms of the virus appear to make vaccines less effective.

The WHO also says the vaccine can be used in people aged over 65, which some countries have advised against.
Spacing out the two doses, as is happening in the UK, makes the vaccine more effective, it advises.

The Oxford vaccine is seen as the “vaccine for the world” as it is cheap, can be mass-produced and is stored in a standard fridge.

However, it has attracted controversy about its effectiveness against new variants, whether it should be used in the elderly, and how far apart the doses should be given, due to a lack of data.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, known as Sage, has been scrutinizing evidence from vaccine trials.

Its interim recommendations say the vaccine is 63% effective overall.

However, early data from trials in South Africa showed the vaccine was offering “minimal protection” against mild and moderate disease in young people.

The WHO’s director of immunization, Dr. Katherine O’Brien, said the South African study was “inconclusive” and it was “plausible” the vaccine would still prevent severe disease.

A variant in the country has acquired mutations that seem to help it evade immunity from vaccines and from previous infections.

However, Oxford scientists still expect their vaccine to prevent people from becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 and needing hospital treatment.

“There is no reason not to recommend its use even in countries that have a circulation of the variant,” said Dr Alejandro Cravioto, the chairman of WHO’s Sage.

The scientific advisers also said giving two doses eight-12 weeks apart increased the vaccine’s effectiveness and provided greater protection.

Initially, the WHO had recommended a gap of up to six weeks between doses, only in exceptional circumstances.


Source: BBC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Who is Britain’s new finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng?

Listen to this article Kwasi Kwarteng, a long-time ally and political soulmate of new high…