In a newsletter, the World Health Organization (WHO) releases ‘The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know’ detailing interim recommendations from the WHO Strategic Advisory of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) for the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine (AZD1222).
The WHO article answers the following questions. Here are some highlighted questions.
Is it safe? While this vaccine has yet to be recommended for an Emergency Use Listing by WHO, it has undergone review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and consequently meets WHO’s criteria for SAGE consideration. The EMA has thoroughly assessed the data on the quality, safety, and efficacy of the vaccine and has recommended granting conditional marketing authorization for people aged 18 and above.
The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, a group of experts that provides independent and authoritative guide to the WHO on the topic of safe vaccine use, receives and assesses reports of suspected safety events of potentially international impact.
Who is the vaccine not recommended for? People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it. The vaccine is not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age pending the results of further studies. The recommended dosage is two doses given intramuscularly (0.5ml each) with an interval of 8 to 12 weeks. Additional research is needed to understand longer-term potential protection after a single dose.
How efficacious is the vaccine? The AZD1222 vaccine against COVID-19 has an efficacy of 63.09% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Longer dose intervals within the 8 to 12 weeks range are associated with greater vaccine efficacy.
Does it work against new variants? SAGE has reviewed all available data on the performance of the vaccine in the settings of variants of concern. SAGE currently recommends the use of AZD1222 vaccine according to the WHO Prioritization Roadmap, even if virus variants are present in a country. Countries should assess the risks and benefits taking into consideration their epidemiological situation.
Preliminary findings highlight the urgent need for a coordinated approach for surveillance and evaluation of variants and their potential impact on vaccine effectiveness. As new data become available, WHO will update recommendations accordingly.
Other questions can be viewed via the World Health Organization website (click here).