Analysts cheer ‘surprisingly constructive’ AstraZeneca U.S. trial information

A bottle of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Igor Petyx | KONTROLAB | LightRocket via Getty Images

Health analysts welcomed AstraZenecaThe results of the much-anticipated late-stage US study results for the Covid-19 vaccine.

The study of more than 30,000 participants in the US, Peru, and Chile found the vaccine to be a Overall effectiveness of 79% in preventing symptomatic Covid and 100% effectiveness in preventing serious illness and hospitalization.

Efficacy was consistent across ages and races, with 80% effectiveness in participants 65 and over. Known as AZD1222 and jointly developed with Oxford University, the vaccine was well tolerated and the independent data security watchdog did not find any security concerns related to the vaccine, the company said Monday.

The data exceeded expectations

In a research note, Jefferies health analyst Peter Welford described the data as “surprisingly positive”.

Adam Barker, Health Analyst at Shore Capital, said, “This is arguably the first study for AZD1222 that has shown convincing efficacy in those 65 years and older.”

This is important as there have been questions about its effectiveness in this age group. Previous studies have been hampered by fewer older participants. In this study, 20% of participants were 65 years of age or older and 60% had comorbidities, which placed them at increased risk of developing serious illnesses.

Monday’s trial data confirmed the vaccine’s safety profile. Barker said that having the data from a single study with a single-dose regimen removes the data interpretation complications seen in the past with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

Barker added that the lack of evidence of blood clots in the study was also comforting in light of recent concerns. “We are not surprised by these data, however, as the evidence of a link between the vaccine and the blood clots was already quite weak.”

AstraZeneca said it will continue to analyze the data and prepare for the primary analysis to be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval in the coming weeks. The vaccine has already received conditional marketing or emergency marketing authorization in more than 70 countries on six continents.

Dosing regimen a key issue for the FDA

“I can’t understand why the regulator wouldn’t approve this,” Barker wrote, but warned that the detailed data is pending.

A key question for the FDA will be what dosage regimen it will endorse should it end up using the vaccine in an emergency.

“This study is based on dosing 4 weeks apart, but we know The effectiveness can be higher if you dose with a longer interval (up to 12 weeks) and countries like the UK have successfully used this “longer period between doses” strategy to vaccinate more people quickly, “Barker said.

So the question for the FDA is whether it will recommend giving the two doses four weeks apart – assuming this was tested in the US study – or including data from the UK and other countries suggesting a longer duration .

Welford also noted the sub-optimal dosing regimen used in this study. “The study evaluated the 4-week dosing schedule, but we have evidence that the vaccine works better with longer dosing intervals,” he said.

“The primary analysis of the UK, Brazil and South Africa Phase III clinical trials found 62% efficacy when the vaccine was given 4 to 12 weeks apart, but efficacy increased to 82% when the interval was 12 weeks has been extended. “”

In addition to the dosage, analysts also observe in detail how the vaccine protects against different variants. This is expected to be included in the data packet that will be submitted to the FDA.

When it comes to comparing today’s efficacy data with that of some other vaccine manufacturers, Welford has been warning since the first vaccine readings from Pfizer and ModernCovid-19 variants have become more and more common, so the effectiveness data for the different vaccines cannot be directly compared.

Barker added that the trial results gave the vaccine important validation. “Because of its cost and ease of storage and distribution, AZD1222 was once dubbed the ‘Vaccine for the World’. We think this is a fair label,” he wrote. “Data like this, reported today to be more conclusive about the effectiveness and safety of AZD1222, is certainly cause for celebration.”

AstraZeneca has committed to distribute the vaccine for the duration of the pandemic for no profit. The company’s shares traded 2% higher in London on Monday.

Cell orchestra tries to convey cheer to Venezuelan streets | Arts & Leisure

BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela (AP) – Orchestral music envelops the streets of a Venezuelan city every time a truck loaded with musicians drives through traffic last year, attracting the attention of drivers and passers-by who take photos and stare at the vehicle. The live performance is an attempt to give people a little break from the coronavirus pandemic and other hardships.

On a hot afternoon that week, the musicians climbed onto the platform of the truck and began playing with face masks as they traveled through Barquisimeto, a town west of the capital, Caracas. Her instruments included a cello, violins, and even a Steinway & Sons grand piano.

“Music can not only entertain us, it can also transform us, heal us and soothe our emotions,” said José Agustín Sánchez, a Venezuelan pianist, composer and conductor who started the initiative.

Before the show began, Sanchez reminded the musicians that their upcoming performance was a “musical disinfection” that could provoke a range of emotions in them and their audience. He told them to be ready to be yelled at, but also to see someone clap and cry.

The tour started in front of a medical school next to a hospital. Sanchez was conducting the mobile orchestra from his piano as the musicians were sweating under the midday sun. The orchestra played for hours many of the tunes he wrote as the composer for the Caracas Municipal Symphony Orchestra.

In Venezuela, more than 140,900 infections and 1,364 deaths have been confirmed from COVID-19. Experts believe the low number of cases compared to other countries in the region such as Brazil, Colombia and Peru is largely due to the isolation Venezuela has experienced for years due to a political, economic and social crisis.

Barquisimeto is also known as Venezuela’s “City of Music” as it is the hometown of several musical instrument manufacturers, musicians and composers in the country, including Gustavo Dudamel, the music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the USA, one of today’s great conductors.

Sanchez, 31, returned to Venezuela in 2017 after almost 11 years abroad. His travels took him to Tibet and Nepal, where, after several months of “exploring peace from the sound”, he decided to return to his affected country to deliver a message of unity.

He was out and about in Venezuela during the pandemic, playing on pickups, but also in medical facilities treating patients with COVID-19. His Instagram account contains videos of Sanchez wearing personal protective equipment from head to toe and playing the piano alongside patients and healthcare workers.

“It’s a worthy show, it’s beautiful,” said Zulay Chirinos Mariño, a 60-year-old Barquisimeto resident. “I have goosebumps.”

Associate press photographer Ariana Cubillos and writers Jorge Rueda from Caracas, Venezuela, and Regina Garcia Cano from Mexico City contributed to this report.

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