AstraZeneca says that clinical trials for the next generation of coronavirus vaccine would commence in the spring
AstraZeneca has said that it is on course to roll out a vaccine for COVID-19 that is effective against new variants of the coronavirus by autumn of this year.
The company, which had produced a COVID-19 vaccine alongside the University of Oxford, said that clinical trials for the next generation of vaccine would be commencing in the spring.
It added that the plan would be for the new vaccine to go into mass production within the next six to nine months.
Speaking as he unveiled the company’s annual results, chief executive of AstraZeneca Pascal Soriot said that there should be a drop in the UK’s hospital admissions “very soon” as a consequence of the nation’s vaccine rollout.
Cold chills, loss of appetite, headaches and muscle aches could be newly discovered symptoms of COVID-19 infection, according to a new study from Imperial College London, of over one million people, those with these symptoms were more likely to end up testing positive for the coronavirus.
AstraZeneca is set to deliver 100 million doses of their current vaccine across the globe this month, which will be increased to 200 million a month by this April.
Mr Soriot said: “100 million doses in February means 100 million vaccinations, which means hundreds of thousands of severe infections avoided and it also means thousands of deaths that are avoided.”
“We’re going to save thousands of lives and that’s why we come to work every day as individuals,” he added.
“Is it perfect? No it’s not perfect, but it’s great. Who else is making 100 million doses in February?” Mr Soriot said on a conference call about the vaccine.
The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company reported a rise of 10% in revenues for the year to $26.6bn (£19.2bn) although only $2m (£1.4m) of which was recorded from the sale of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is seen as being vital in the global fight against the novel coronavirus, because it is much easier to transport and store than most of the other COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved.
It is also cheaper and the vaccine’s development partners have said that they will provide it on a not-for-profit basis globally during the pandemic and also “in perpetuity” for those low and middle-income countries.
This comes after thousands of extra COVID tests are being rolled out in Manchester after a mutation of the Kent variant was found in the city. Four people from two unconnected households were found with the E484K mutation, Manchester City Council said, and 10,000 extra tests will now be distributed.
One of England’s deputy chief medical officers, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has said that the British public “should not be concerned” that the vaccine from Oxford/AstraZeneca could be any less effective against the new South African variant of the coronavirus.
He said that the case numbers within the UK are “very small” and that it is not likely to become more dominant than any of the other strains.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday: “I think we’re going to have to get used to the idea of vaccinating and then revaccinating in the autumn, as we come to face these new variants.”