Covid: Dr Hilary sends warning over threat of a new variant
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A coronavirus jab based on traditional vaccine technology might be as effective as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, data suggests, offering new hope for global vaccination efforts.
The Valneva Covid vaccine ditched by the UK has a stronger immune response than AstraZeneca, according to reports.
French pharmaceutical firm Valneva has today reported positive results from its COVID-19 trial after the UK Government scrapped a deal for Valneva’s COVID-19 vaccine last month.
Last month the government cancelled its contract with Valneva, which included an order for about 100m doses of the vaccine, over an alleged breach of the agreement.
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Benefits of the Valneva vaccine include having a broader immune response and possibly greater protection in the face of new variants.
This is because it is unlikely that mutations will crop up at the same time in multiple proteins of the virus.
The Valneva jab is also stable when stored in a standard refrigerator, making it easier to distribute than the Covid vaccines, which require shipping and storage at ultra-low temperatures.
Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and trial chief investigator, told a briefing that the figure for the vaccine’s efficacy would come when the jab is used in the population.
He said the Valneva jab is expected to be “at least as effective as, and potentially more effective than” the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
But he said, “the efficacy of a vaccine is not proportional to the antibody titers that it generates”, and there tended to be a threshold above which people were protected against infection or serious illness.
“Enough antibody is what you need and more antibodies may not be any better”.
Researchers also found fewer side-effects were reported in those given the Valneva jab.
However, fewer than one percent of participants given either jab reported an “adverse event of special interest”, while no participants developed a severe Covid infection.
Prof Finn added: “The low levels of reactogenicity and high functional antibody responses alongside broad T-cell responses seen with this adjuvanted inactivated whole-virus vaccine are both impressive and extremely encouraging.
“This is a much more traditional approach to vaccine manufacture than the vaccines so far deployed in the UK, Europe and North America.
“These results suggest this vaccine candidate is on track to play an important role in overcoming the pandemic.”
He told the briefing that it was unclear how the current vaccines would perform in the future and so more vaccines and more vaccine platforms could only be a good thing.
Thomas Lingelbach, chief executive officer of Valneva, added: “These results confirm the advantages often associated with inactivated whole-virus vaccines.”
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