Germany ‘optimistic’ over vaccine; Oxford-AstraZeneca results ‘fantastic’

Berlin/London, Nov 23 (EFE).- Germany has sealed an agreement to purchase at least 5 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by IDT Biologika which is in the first phase of clinical trials, while a vaccine being produced by Oxford University in England and AstraZeneca is 90 percent effective, studies have shown.

At a press conference after visiting the pharmaceutical company’s facilities on Monday, health minister Jens Spahn said that vaccines were “the key to getting out of the pandemic” and spoke of his “pride” that three German firms – BioNTech, Curevac and IDT – were at the forefront of “promising” vaccine developments.

“The crisis shows the best in us,” Spahn said, according to a statement on the federal government’s website.

“There is reason to be optimistic that there will be approval for a vaccine in Europe this year,” he added. “And then we can start with the vaccinations immediately.”

After the visit to the IDT facility in Dessau in east Germany, the minister also announced that the federal government had signed a contract for the purchase of five million vaccine doses from IDT Biologika and that it was giving 30 million euros to build up production capacities, which is “an investment in the future”, Spahn said.

IDT has received some 113 million euros in research funds from the German government.

Spahn added that the second wave of the pandemic in the country had been “broken” by the partial lockdown which has helped slow the exponential growth of infections, but he stressed that the numbers were still too high.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to announce an extension of the partial lockdown – in place since early November – after meeting with the country’s regional prime ministers on Wednesday.

In other vaccine news, the British regulator of medicines will study the combination of doses of the Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine that has shown to be 90 percent effective, the British minister of health, Matt Hancock, said on Monday.

The British university, together with the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company, released the preliminary results of the third phase of clinical trials of its ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 vaccine, which indicate that it prevents covid-19 in an average of 70.4 percent of cases and is safe in people over 70, as well as being relatively inexpensive and easy to store.

In one of the experiments, the antidote demonstrated 90 percent effectiveness, when volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose.

However, the level of effectiveness dropped to 62 percent when the volunteers were given two full doses.

Hancock said he was “delighted” with the results, while AstraZeneca chief Mene Pangalos said: “The data has shown us that the vaccine is clearly effective in terms of reducing infections, in reducing people getting sick and going to hospital, and it is potentially reducing transmission.

“It’s got every chance of being a very successful vaccine that can get us back to normal.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will announce on Monday a return to a targeted three-tiered system of pandemic restrictions in the UK, welcomed the developments on Twitter.

“Incredibly exciting news the Oxford vaccine has proved so effective in trials,” Johnson said. “There are still further safety checks ahead, but these are fantastic results.” EFE


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