The Astrazeneca vaccine, also known as the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, is a potential vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) being developed by the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company Astrazeneca.
The goal of the vaccine is to provide protection against the virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease. The vaccine has shown promise in a variety of clinical studies, including those conducted by Astrazeneca and its partner Oxford University. While the vaccine is not yet approved for general use, it has been approved in some countries including the United Kingdom, India, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
History of Astrazeneca
Astrazeneca has been in existence since 1999 when the merger of British drug-making firm Zeneca Group and Swedish company Astra AB created the company. The company has since grown to become one of the world’s largest pharmaceuticals firms, with production and distribution facilities around the world. Their focus has been primarily on developing drugs for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, HIV, and influenza.
Medical Research and Development by Astrazeneca
Astrazeneca has long been involved in medical research and development, with a particular focus on creating innovative treatments for cancer and infectious diseases. They are currently engaged in a variety of research projects including the development of vaccines for HIV, hepatitis C, and influenza, as well as researching new treatments for non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.
Development of the Astrazeneca Vaccine
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, Astrazeneca saw an opportunity to put their medical research and drug-development expertise to use in creating a vaccine. Working with the University of Oxford, they developed the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. The vaccine uses a weakened form of a common cold virus (adenovirus), originally found in chimpanzees, which has been modified to carry pieces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This replicates the virus’s genetic material, allowing the body to learn to recognize and fight it.
Clinical Trials of the Vaccine
To test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, Astrazeneca conducted a Phase III clinical trial in partnership with Oxford University. A total of 23,745 participants from around the world were given either the vaccine or a placebo, in addition to established safety protocols. The volunteers were monitored over time, and the results of the study were published in the medical journal The Lancet in December of 2020.
Results of the Clinical Trial
The results of the trial showed that the vaccine was highly effective in preventing COVID-19 in most of the volunteers. The vaccine was particularly effective in those aged 18 to 55 years old, with no safety concerns being reported in any of the volunteers. The trial also showed that the vaccine was highly effective in preventing severe infection with the virus, reducing the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by up to 80 percent.
Approval and Distribution of the Astrazeneca Vaccine
In December 2020, the Astrazeneca vaccine was approved by the UK regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK. This was based on its safety and efficacy data from the Phase III clinical trial. In the weeks following, the vaccine was approved in several other countries, including India, South Korea, and the UAE.
The vaccine is now being distributed around the world in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and reduce the death toll. Astrazeneca is working with UNICEF, GAVI and the Covax initiative to ensure equitable access to the vaccine, especially in the poorer countries.
Dosage, Storage, and Administration
The Astrazeneca vaccine is administered in two doses given 28 days apart. Each dose should be 0.5 milliliters given by intramuscular injection. It should be stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions, at temperatures between -25℃ and 8℃.
Possible Side Effects
Like all vaccines, the Astrazeneca vaccine may cause some mild side effects in some people, including pain at the injection site, fever, chills, fatigue, and headache. These side effects are temporary and resolve on their own within a few days. In rare cases, some people may experience serious side effects, such as anaphylaxis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, or pelvic inflammatory disease, which can be treated with appropriate medications.
Risks of Vaccination
Although the Astrazeneca vaccine has been tested extensively and has been approved as safe and effective, as with any medical intervention, there is still a risk of serious side effects. It is important to speak with a doctor or other healthcare professional before receiving the vaccine if you have any concerns or risk factors.
The development and distribution of the Astrazeneca vaccine has been an incredible and inspiring feat of science and human compassion. The vaccine has been found to be safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 and reducing the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus. It is being distributed around the world in an effort to save lives and end the pandemic.