A ‘vaccine for the world’? UK team seeks approval for virus jab

LONDON: Scientists behind a coronavirus jab being developed in Britain on Monday hailed it as a potential “vaccine for the world”, which could be cheaper to make and easier to store and distribute than its main rivals. UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and its partner the University of Oxford said they were seeking regulatory approval for the vaccine after it showed an average 70 per cent effectiveness. That rate jumped to 90 per cent depending on the dosage, similar to that in rival vaccines in by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna announced last week. Despite the varying outcomes, AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot insisted his firm’s vaccine would have an “immediate impact” in the fight against the global pandemic. Nearly 200 million doses will be made before the end of the year and more than 700 million globally by the end of March next year, the company said. The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine could also be stored, transported and handled “at normal refrigerated conditions” of between two and eight degrees Celsius (36-46 Fahrenheit) for at least six months. That is a far cry from the -70C needed for Pfizer/BioNTech’s offering and could allow use of the existing refrigerated supply chain to cut costs. — AFP