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AstraZeneca Likely To Run New Global Trial Of COVID-19 Vaccine

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AstraZeneca is mulling an additional global trial to confirm the 90% efficacy rate of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate at lower dosage, Bloomberg news quoted Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot as saying.

In an interview, Soriot noted that instead of adding the trial to an ongoing U.S. process, the company might launch a fresh study to evaluate efficacy of lower dosage of its vaccine that performed better than a full dosage.

Soriot told Bloomberg, "Now that we've found what looks like a better efficacy we have to validate this, so we need to do an additional study. ... but this one could be faster because we know the efficacy is high so we need a smaller number of patients."

Soriot's comments come as the British drug major and its vaccine partner Oxford University are facing questions about the trial results of their investigational COVID-19 vaccine AZD1222 after they acknowledged a manufacturing error. The additional trial is expected to clear up uncertainty and transparency issues about its current study.

Earlier this week, AZD1222 was found to be 70 percent effective on average against Covid-19 in a late-stage study conducted in the UK and Brazil. The group of volunteers that got a half-dose showed efficacy of 90%, compared to 62% efficacy when volunteers were given two full doses.

Following the release of results, AstraZeneca and Oxford University reportedly admitted that a batch of volunteers were accidentally given half doses, instead of a full dose, due to difference in manufacturing processes.

Meanwhile, the British government's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, during a news briefing with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the main point about the AstraZeneca vaccine was that it worked.

In a related development, developers of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine tweeted that AstraZeneca should try combining its experimental shot with their vaccine to boost efficacy. According to interim trial results, Sputnik V vaccine was found to be 92% effective. "Combining vaccines may prove important for revaccinations," they said.

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