Scandal flares up around European coronavirus vaccine AstraZeneca

A huge scandal over the past few days around the drug AstraZeneca. Its efficiency turned out to be only at 70%, billions of dollars should be invested in production, and the question is: who will buy such a vaccine if it is possible to buy a more effective drug? That’s what manufacturers are thinking about.

The English scientists decided to write off everything for an unfortunate mistake as soon as the scandal started to flare up. Today, it is being discussed in both the British and American press. Here is the headline in The Guardian: ‘Oxford Coronavirus vaccine achieved 90% effectiveness due to a dosing error’. It turned out that the developers were able to achieve this result only by injecting half the vaccine doses and considering only younger volunteers in the research.

Bloomberg quotes U.S. Presidential Vaccine Advisor Monceph Slowie as saying, “Slowie told reporters that the method where volunteers first received half a dose, and then full, was used for a group no older than 55 years. However, the group where the volunteers received two full doses and where the vaccine was shown to be 62 percent effective, had people over that age.

Reuters reports that scientists from Oxford, who are developing the drug with AstraZeneca, noticed weak side effects during the volunteers’ vaccination. They were calculated to be more serious. When they started to figure out what the cause was, it turned out that the vaccine dose was half as low as the prescribed dose.

What is this random error or deliberate falsification of test results? The answer is not yet given. However, a scandal may prevent the British from registering the vaccine soon. This means that AstraZeneca may drop out of the race to be one of the first vaccine manufacturers.

Now the leading pharmaceutical manufacturers of the planet have come together in this confrontation. There is a lot of money at stake. The British Financial Times writes about 10 billion dollars a year. Experts have calculated: the market size of the COVID-19 vaccine is equal to the annual income of the 10 most popular drugs in the world combined.

AstraZeneca is an Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant. Because of the scandal, the company’s shares have been falling in price for three consecutive days. Since the beginning of the week, they have lost almost 5% of the price. The company’s capitalization has decreased by six billion dollars. However, recent events may hit not only AstraZeneca itself.

The company has already signed contracts to supply the vaccine to Britain and the EU countries. However, the European officials in their reports on this event have missed one important detail. They did not disclose the conditions under which Brussels decided to purchase this drug. And that is not all.

As the Belgian edition of Dhnet writes, “the problem is that the pharmaceutical giant was immune from any legal claims in case if the use of the vaccine will eventually give negative side effects.

Such contract terms may be related to the origin of the vaccine itself, experts say. The Oxford vaccine is based on the adenovirus strains taken from a monkey. And the consequences of its human use have not been fully studied, so its long-term safety cannot be guaranteed.

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