AstraZeneca to seek FDA authorization for vaccine based on foreign trial data

The company also said it would work with the agency to adjust the design of its late-stage U.S. trial to test the half-dose regimen, rather than the higher dose that proved less effective in the U.S and Brazil studies. That U.S. trial has enrolled about 10,000 of a planned 40,000 participants, but the company has not released any data from that study.

The U.K. and Brazil studies have enrolled about 24,000 participants — fewer than the 30,000 participants that the FDA is requiring for late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials.

The initial findings were based on 131 infections among trial participants. The company did not break down how many cases were reported among those who got a placebo versus those who got the vaccine, and within that vaccine group, how cases split among the two doses tested.

AstraZeneca also said that none of the infected people had severe Covid-19 or were hospitalized, but offered no further safety information.

Promising logistics: The AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper and easier to distribute than the other two shots that have proven effective. It can be transported and stored under refrigerated conditions for at least six months, and the company says it can make up to 3 billion doses next year.

Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which have each proven about 95 percent effective, must be frozen during distribution and kept at very cold temperatures.

“AstraZeneca and Oxford have developed an affordable, scalable vaccine that crucially can be stored and shipped in a regular refrigerator,” said Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said in a statement. “This makes it appropriate for use and easy to deliver almost anywhere in the world, including in low-resource settings.”

But questions remain: Others doubt whether the FDA will authorize the vaccine.

“We believe that this product will never be licensed in the US,” investment bank SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges said in a note on Monday. “This belief is based on the design of the company’s pivotal trials (which does not appear to match the FDA’s requirements for representation of minorities, severe cases, previously infected individuals and elderly and other increase risk populations), and based on the occurrence of severe safety events (why take the risk) that resulted in the extended clinical hold on enrollment into the trials in the US.”

The company halted its U.S. trial in early September over safety concerns, after a trial participant reported neurological problems. The study resumed earlier this month after FDA concluded that no evidence linked the volunteer’s symptoms to the shot.

Background: The AstraZeneca vaccine was developed by scientists at Oxford University, and uses a different technology than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. It uses a weakened version of the common cold that contains some genetic material from the coronavirus.

U.S. vaccine and therapeutics accelerator Operation Warp Speed paid for some of the clinical development of the AstraZeneca vaccine and purchased 300 million doses for $1.2 billion.

Other clinical trials are ongoing in Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya

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Coronavirus Vaccine: Pfizer Says It Won’t Seek Authorization Before Mid-November

The chief executive of Pfizer said on Friday that the company would not apply for emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine before the third week of November, ruling out President Trump’s assertion that a vaccine would be ready before Election Day on Nov. 3.

In a statement posted to the company website, the chief executive, Dr. Albert Bourla, said that although Pfizer could have preliminary numbers by the end of October about whether the vaccine works, it would still need to collect safety and manufacturing data that will stretch the timeline to at least the third week of November.

Close watchers of the vaccine race had already known that Pfizer wouldn’t be able to meet the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration by the end of this month. But Friday’s announcement represents a shift in tone for the company and its leader, who has repeatedly emphasized the month of October in interviews and public appearances.

In doing so, the company had aligned its messaging with that of the president, who has made no secret of his desire for an approved vaccine before the election. He has even singled out the company by name and said he had talked to Dr. Bourla, whom he called a “great guy.”

Some scientists applauded Pfizer’s announcement.

“This is good, really good,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trial expert at Scripps Research in San Diego who was one of 60 public health officials and others in the medical community who signed a letter to Pfizer urging it not to rush its vaccine.

Keep up with Election 2020

He said company officials had assured him that a vaccine would most likely not be authorized before the election, but the letter Friday is “even more solid about their not being part of any political machinations.”

Dr. Bourla has pushed back against any suggestion that Pfizer’s vaccine timeline was politically motivated. In September, Pfizer was the driving force behind a pledge by nine vaccine companies to “stand with science” and not put forward anything that had not been properly vetted. Earlier this month, he published an open letter to employees that said he “would never succumb to political pressure” and expressing disappointment that “we find ourselves in the crucible of the U.S. presidential election.”

Pfizer is one of four companies testing a coronavirus vaccine in late-stage clinical trials in the United States, and it has been the most aggressive in its timeline estimates. Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have said that later in the year is more likely, matching the predictions of federal health officials. (AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s trials have been paused for potential safety concerns, which could further delay their outcomes.)

In interviews, Mr. Bourla has said that he expects a “conclusive readout” by late October, with an application for emergency authorization that could be filed “immediately.”

Pfizer’s trial of 44,000 volunteers tests the vaccine by giving one group the vaccine, another group the placebo, and waiting until a certain number of

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