AstraZeneca after data-monitoring dust-up: Shots are 76% effective against all COVID-19

Drugmaker AstraZeneca on Thursday said its vaccine is 76% effective against all forms of COVID-19 disease — a tad lower than the 79% it touted earlier in the week, sparking a confrontation with trial-monitors who accused them of cherry-picking data.

The new statement affirmed the two-dose vaccine is highly effective at staving off all hospitalization and severe disease.

“The primary analysis is consistent with our previously released interim analysis, and confirms that our COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in adults, including those aged 65 years and over,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president. “We look forward to filing our regulatory submission for Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. and preparing for the rollout of millions of doses across America.”

The drugmaker released a statement reflecting the primary analysis of its human trial in the U.S., Peru and Chile after the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board alerted the National Institutes of Health that it was uncomfortable with a Monday press release from a “pre-specified interim analysis” that did not include the most up-to-date data.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, characterized it as an “unforced error” and said the Food and Drug Administration will look at all the data. He said it is “likely a very good vaccine.”

The vaccine, if approved for emergency use, will give the U.S. more flexibility in its supply — it already has enough doses for every adult from three other vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is also considered an inexpensive, easy-to-store version that will immunize more of the world, making it a critical tool in the fight to wrangle the coronavirus.

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