Technology Covid-19: the twists and turns of the AstraZeneca vaccine

Covid-19: the twists and turns of the AstraZeneca vaccine

A vial containing the AstraZeneca vaccine. (MAXIME GLORIEUX / FRANCE-ARMORIC BLUE)

After three days of suspense, the agency therefore confirms that there are more benefits to being vaccinated with AstraZeneca than risks, although it has not been able to determine whether the few cases of atypical thrombosis recorded in recent times were or were not related to the vaccine. But if these cases turned out to be linked to vaccination, they would remain in the minority compared to the lives saved by the vaccine in the absence of other effective and accessible solutions today.

This is a new test for this product born from an alliance between the industrialist AstraZeneca and the academic world of the University of Oxford. A product that quickly played transparency with the publication of its first results in the scientific journal The Lancet but who also pays the price.

These results did not show enough data on the older ones at the start, when they were the biggest victims of Covid. It was therefore initially reserved for the youngest, who have less serious forms. They also showed less efficacy against certain variants, which led South Africa to suspend vaccination. Two brakes that have tarnished its reputation among a large public seeking to calculate its risk-benefit for vaccination.

In its first clinical trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, the testing protocols were not conducted quite the same. Last November, AstraZeneca even revealed that it was by making a dosage error on 2,700 volunteers that they found their formulation for better vaccine effectiveness. A lucky mistake for some, but doubtful for the FDA. The American Medicines Agency therefore asked the laboratory to redo tests in the United States. The company could have filed an emergency approval request with the agency but did not do so, preferring to finish its tests within a few weeks. It must be said that a refusal by the FDA is not really good publicity.

However, we cannot say that the United States does not trust this vaccine. The US government has invested $ 1.2 billion in its research and production with its Operation Warp Speed. He bought several million doses and elsewhere according to the New York Times, he even refused the export of some of them to Europe in early March, while the product is still not approved on its territory.

In the United States, many doctors criticize the slowness of the American administration. They say that with millions of people vaccinated in the UK and approval from the European Medicines Agency, this vaccine has largely proven its benefits. They recall that there have also been a few cases of suspicious thrombosis after vaccinations with Pfizer in the United States, although no link has been clearly established with the product. In any case, if AstraZeneca found itself shunned by some Europeans, it is eagerly awaited across the Atlantic.

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