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AstraZeneca’s Oxford coronavirus vaccine is 70% effective. Here’s what it means

AstraZeneca’s Oxford coronavirus vaccine is 70% effective. It could be good for your immune system.

In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020 file photo, a volunteer receives an injection at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, as part of Africa’s first participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial developed at the University of Oxford in Britain in conjunction with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020, file photo, a volunteer receives an injection at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, as part of Africa’s first participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial developed at the University of Oxford in Britain in conjunction with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
Siphiwe Sibeko, Associated Press

Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced Monday that its experimental coronavirus vaccine held an average efficacy of 70% in its trials.

  • This is the latest results for a COVID-19 vaccine trial after we learned about Moderna and Pfizer earlier this month.

What’s going on?

The vaccine — which comes from the University of Oxford — showed 90% efficacy in one trial, where the vaccine was given as a half dose and then a full dose down the road.

  • The second trial showed 62% efficacy when two doses were given a month apart.
  • AstraZeneca said the vaccine leads to a 70% efficacy. It’s not clear why the two trial gave different results.

The trial results led to “no hospitalisations or severe cases of COVID-19 in participants,” according to AstraZeneca.

What it means

Professor Andrew Pollard, the trial’s lead investigator at Oxford, told reporters Monday the vaccine would likely require to two doses — one to prepare your immune system, and another down the road, CNN reports.

The first dose would kick “the immune system into action.” The second dose would be added later. Of course, there’s still more research to do.

  • “What we’ve always tried to do with a vaccine is fool the immune system into thinking that there’s a dangerous infection there that it needs to respond to — but doing it in a very safe way,” Pollard said, according to CNN. “So we get the immune response and we get the immune memory ... waiting and ready if the pathogen itself is then encountered.”