Britons who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may not need a booster as they should have longer-term protection against Covid-19 infection, the pharmaceutical company chief said.
Pascal Soriot, managing director of the British pharmaceutical giant, told the Daily Mail that he hoped this fall for concrete data proving that his jab produced strong “T cell immunity”.
T cells – a type of white blood cell in the immune system – provide a different type of immunity to antibodies, and this can last longer.
The elderly and vulnerable are currently expected to receive Covid booster shots this fall on the NHS, fearing that the protection offered by the vaccines will wane over time.
If the data on the T cell response is confirmed, it may mean that some of those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine do not need it.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the British pharmaceutical giant, told the Daily Mail that he hopes for concrete data this fall that proves his jab produces strong “T cell immunity”
Mr Soriot said: “We hope the Oxford-AstraZeneca will provide longer term protection. Science so far suggests that our vaccine provides a strong T cell response which I hope means its effects will last longer. So that looks good, but we’re not sure yet if you’ll need a booster. Time will tell us.’
AstraZeneca expects to have authoritative data by October or November. If the science turns out to be correct, it could relieve the NHS of the heavy burden of providing millions of urgent booster shots before winter sets in and saving hospitalizations and countless lives.
A study from the University of Birmingham shows that the AZ jab, based on the science of traditional vaccination, triggers T cells, which fight infection, more than its US counterparts produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
Data collected by another pharmaceutical group, Johnson & Johnson, based on the same vaccine technology as Astra’s Covid vaccine and used against the Zika virus in Africa, shows it “offers years of protection,” Mr. Soriot. Pfizer has acknowledged that the effectiveness of its mRNA jabs shows lower levels of protection after six months, which is why the company is recommending a booster.
Mr Soriot also revealed that authoritative data shows the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be highly effective against the rampant Delta variant. And a growing number of studies show that a person receiving the Pfizer vaccine was just as likely to experience rare side effects as those receiving the AZ dose.
Earlier this year, EU leaders Angela Merkel of Germany and Emanuel Macron of France made derogatory comments about the AZ vaccine and launched legal action against the company over supply bottlenecks.
“We are in talks with the European Union to reach a settlement,” Soriot said. Despite all the hostility, AZ is the second largest supplier of doses to the EU.