AstraZeneca's Good News Comes With a Caveat

Federal health officials warn of 'an incomplete view of the efficacy data'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2021 6:10 AM CDT
Updated Mar 23, 2021 6:52 AM CDT
There May Be an Asterisk With AstraZeneca's Claimed Efficacy
Medical staff prepares an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine during preparations at the vaccine center in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Results from a US trial of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine may have included "outdated information" and that could mean the company provided an incomplete view of efficacy data, American federal health officials said early Tuesday. A spokesman from the drug company said Tuesday it was "looking into it," per the AP. AstraZeneca reported Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection among adults of all ages in a long-anticipated US study, a finding that some experts hoped would help rebuild public confidence in the shot around the world and move it a step closer to clearance in the US. In the study of more than 30,000 people, the company reported that the vaccine was found to be 79% effective at preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19—including in older adults. There were no severe illnesses or hospitalizations among vaccinated volunteers, compared with five such cases in participants who received dummy shots.

AstraZeneca also said the study's independent safety monitors found no serious side effects, including no increased risk of rare blood clots like those identified in Europe, a scare that led numerous countries to briefly suspend vaccinations last week. But just hours after those encouraging results were reported, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases issued an unusual statement, saying the Data and Safety Monitoring Board "expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data." "We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible," it added. The company aims to file an application with the FDA in the coming weeks, and the government's outside advisers will then publicly debate the evidence.

(More AstraZeneca stories.)

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