Virologist Steven Van Gucht is optimistic about the assessment by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which approved the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.
“We’ve been spoiled by the exceptionally high figures of Pfizer and Moderna, but 60% effectiveness is certainly good,” Van Gucht noted.
On Friday, the EMA gave AstraZeneca conditional authorisation to market its treatment. The Agency’s tests found that the vaccine developed by the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company had a 60% rate of effectiveness against the virus.
Noting that the US Federal Drug Agency, FDA, sets the benchmark at 50%, Van Gucht remarked that 60% “is also the effectiveness of the average flu vaccine. Sixty percent effectiveness is therefore assuredly good.”
According to the virologist, it is also essential to examine how many people are saved from having to go to hospital by the vaccine. “That makes a substantial difference for the health care system,” he pointed out.
On the issue of people over the age of 65, for whom the EMA has given the green light for the vaccine on the basis of a limited number of participants, Van Gucht noted that much would depend on data from the United Kingdom.
“We are awaiting data in the next few weeks from the United Kingdom, where the AstraZeneca vaccine has already been administered on a large scale to the elderly,” he said. “The United Kingdom has a very good registration system, and these figures will probably be available before we begin vaccinating people over the age of 65.”
The virologist stressed the importance of vaccinating people as quickly as possible since “the faster everyone is vaccinated, the faster the crisis will be resolved.”
“All vaccines approved so far are functioning very well,” he added.