A new study has found that the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine protects people against serious illness and death from COVID-19, while also slowing the transmission of the coronavirus, according to The New York Times.

  • The study — which comes from University of Oxford researchers — is the first documented evidence that a coronavirus vaccine can slow transmission. Most vaccines prevent severe illness and death — little has been said about transmission.
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  • The researchers took swabs of participants every week to detect the coronavirus. If the virus wasn’t there — even if someone had been infected with the coronavirus — then it was a sign the virus couldn’t spread, The New York Times reports.
  • Overall, the study found there was a 67% reduction in positive COVID-19 swabs in those who received the vaccine.

Context

The AstraZeneca vaccine received approval from European Union’s drug regulator at the end of January for emergency use to help fight COVID-19, CNBC reports.

However, Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said the vaccine might not be recommended for older adults because there’s a lack of data on its effectiveness with that population group, according to The Associated Press.

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  • Per The Associated Press, 12% of participants of the AstraZeneca study were over 55 years old. And they were added to the study later on in the trials. The study did not have enough time to review data for elderly patients. So it could come with that caveat.

When does it come to the United States?

Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, told Politico at the beginning of January that the vaccine likely won’t reach the United States until April due to its impact on at-risk groups.

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  • “We project, if everything goes well, that the readout and emergency use authorization may be granted somewhere early in the month of April,” Slaoui said Wednesday, per Politico.
  • “As far as the American people are concerned, I think it’s important to say one vaccine has 95% efficacy, another vaccine has X percent, whatever that number,” Slaoui said. “We need a clear and concrete number more than a number that is accumulated by adding together different trials with different schedules and different materials.”