ASTRAZENECA REVEALS DOSING ERROR
AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford's coronavirus vaccine's high efficacy may have been in part due to a dosing error, according to a Euronews report.
In the press release on the vaccine's efficacy, the vaccine candidate had a higher efficacy - up to 90% - in the group that received a half dose and then a full dose.
But the candidate vaccine was just 62% effective in the group that received two full doses.
Mene Pangalos, head of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca, admitted to Reuters that some participants received a half dose and then a full dose due to a dosing error.
Pangalos called it a "useful mistake" in a later interview with the New York Times, published on Wednesday.
Oxford University said in a statement that some of the vials in the trial did not have the right concentration of vaccine. The university said the problem was discussed with regulators and they decided to complete the late-stage trial in two groups, according to the AP.
Experts say the small number of people in the low dose group - some 2,741 - make it difficult to know if the effectiveness is a statistical quirk.
Also, none of the people in the low dose group were over 55 years old and younger people tend to have a stronger immune response than those who are older.
A spokesperson for the University of Oxford told Euronews that "as a result of a difference in the manufacturing process" the phase I trial method was "shown to over-estimate the dose on the new batches of vaccine resulting in a half dose of the vaccine being administered as the first dose".
After discussing with the regulator, the two different concentrations were tested in phase III trials.
David Salisbury, an associate fellow of the global health program at Chatham House said another area of confusion is that the press release pooled results from the two groups to reach an average of 70% efficacy.
“You’ve taken two studies for which different doses were used and come up with a composite that doesn’t represent either of the doses,″ Salisbury told the AP. “I think many people are having trouble with that.″
Researchers say a smaller first dose could be more effective because you need just the right amount to get a good immune response.