The Disputed Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine for COVID-19

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It was a good six months ago that serious discussions had begun regarding the new vaccines that were on the horizon. The main participants who volunteered to work 24/7 towards a cure were Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Well, we now see that Pfizer and Moderna have succeeded in providing a 95% efficacy rate among adults, and for some people who have a strong immune system, the efficacy rate can reach 100%. But what about AstraZeneca?

The World Health Organization approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines for the COVID-19 virus in February 2021. While high hopes accompanied the vaccine during the initial stages of development, things have changed for the worse since then. 

According to the World Health Organization, this vaccine, which is developed in partnership with Oxford University, has 63.09% effectiveness against the virus. The longer interval between doses is another possible factor contributing to the greater effectiveness of the vaccine. However, unlike the other coronavirus vaccines, this life-saving has been unfortunately inundated with disputes followed by other disputes since its inception.

Here is an overview of the problems and disputes revolving around the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Trial Data Dispute 

Zika Vaccine

In November 2020, AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Company based in England, published an ad-hoc analysis of clinical trials. The results showed that the vaccine was 70% effective in protecting against the COVOD-19. While the results appeared promising initially, further analysis of the claim revealed something else.

Later, more in-depth research on the company’s statement revealed that the 70% effectiveness was a combination of two separate dosing schedules within the trials. One of the schedules showed an efficacy of 90% when trial participants received half a dose, followed by a full dose. Both the doses were administered at least one month apart. The other dosing schedule showed 62% effectiveness when two full doses were administered at least one month apart.

Later the pharmaceutical giant admitted that the first dosing regime was a mistake. In fact, the concerned authorities described it as a “useful mistake.” The confusing public relation strategy marked the start of trust issues between the public and AstraZeneca.

The Supply Side Issue

Another dispute related to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 was the supply dispute. Since AstraZeneca is a U.K.-based company, most of the doses were manufactured in Britain. However, when the pharmaceutical company started the supply of doses to the neighboring European Union, that’s when there were reports about the pharmaceutical company not fulfilling their supply contract. 

The Effectiveness for “Over-65 Years of Age” Dispute 

Man getting injectionAs the year 2021 started, another controversy was waiting for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19. Some of the European nations who received some of the earlier supplies of the vaccine claimed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was not effective for people over the age of 65. Note that this is a group of the most vulnerable and in need of the vaccine due to a higher risk of contracting the infection.

Germany was one of the first European countries to claim that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should only be offered to people ages 18-64. The concerned German authorities claim that there was not enough data to prove the vaccine’s effectiveness for people over the age of 65. France further aggravated the concern as the French President called the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine“quasi-ineffective” for individuals over the age of 65. 

Later, the trial data revealed important results, and the numbers showed that the vaccine was effective and safe for individuals over the age of 65. As a result, Germany and France have revised their concerns and have approved the vaccine for the older population. 

However, the public image of the pharmaceutical company and the newly developed vaccine was already compromised. 

The Resulting Blood Clots 

The series of controversies didn’t stop here. Another issue surfaced in March 2021 when there was evidence of blood clots in some individuals who have been vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. As a result, more than a dozen European countries put off the administration of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The case is still pending as the countries are assessing the safety standards of the vaccine. Countries within the European Union which have stopped the use of vaccine include:

      • Norway, 
      • Bulgaria, 
      • Iceland, 
      • France, 
      • Spain, 
      • Italy, 
      • Ireland,
      • Germany,
      • Sweden, 
      • Latvia, 
      • And the Netherlands. 

Moreover, countries outside the European Union, including Thailand and Congo, have also halted the vaccine administration. 

However, the pharmaceutical company stepped forward to defend the use of vaccines and claimed that the risk of blood clots following the vaccination administration was much lower than the risk of naturally developing blood clots. Following the controversy, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization conducted safety reviews for the vaccine again. The results concluded that the vaccine was safe and effective. However, further damage to the vaccine’s reputation has been done. 

The Latest Dispute 

The disputes revolving around the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 seem never-ending. The findings of a large trial based in the U.S. proved that the vaccine was safe and effective for use. However, a U.S. health agency claimed that the pharmaceutical company might have included obsolete/mistaken information as done in the past. 

It seems to be a huge allegation on a pharmaceutical company that is striving to deliver a quality life-saving drug to people around the world. The company responds back to the dispute claiming that the trial was conducted to the highest standards. 

The Future of Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine for COVID-19

The evidence from the clinical trials has proven the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19. However, it has faced many controversies since its inception, which has damaged the company and the vaccine’s reputation among the general public. When people already have reservations about the vaccines in these times of uncertainty, negative coverage of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19is certainly not something the world needs. To end the pandemic, the world has no choice but to trust vaccines that have proven effective and safe in the trials.