As AstraZeneca prepares to issue results of an updated primary analysis following concern from top officials that previously released information on vaccine efficacy included outdated data, questions over how the public will perceive the jab have begun to surface. The vaccine has already faced scrutiny in Europe, where several countries temporarily suspended use amid worry of a since-debunked link to blood clots.
U.K. and EU regulatory agencies have since found that the jab is safe and effective, and countries have resumed the rollout, but in the U.S., where vaccine hesitancy was a chief concern among officials who see the shots as a means to end the pandemic, transparency throughout the approval process will remain key.
“We’re always concerned when there is an apparent ‘miscommunication,’ if you want to use that word, that it would add to already existing levels of vaccine hesitancy,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said during Wednesday’s White House COVID-19 briefing. “That’s the reason why we want to make sure we’re always completely transparent in everything that goes with regard to messaging and the vaccine.”
Fauci said that “at the end of the day,” the data indicates that the AstraZeneca jab “is going to turn out to be a good vaccine,” and the final determination for emergency use authorization will be left in the hands of the FDA.
“When that is done, that is going to be very transparent,” he said, referencing the FDA process. “Hopefully, that will dispel any hesitancy associated with this little bump in the road we happened to have most recently with AstraZeneca.”
The company has indicated that it hopes to file for emergency use authorization with the FDA in the coming weeks, signaling what would potentially be a fourth vaccine to receive such approval in the U.S. The data, which was since flagged, stemmed from a Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the U.S. that indicated a 79% effectiveness in preventing symptomatic infections.
Developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford, the AstraZeneca jab, was created using a modified version of a chimp adenovirus and can remain stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius for up to at least six months. The vaccine is given in two doses spaced four weeks apart, similar to the Moderna spacing.