AstraZeneca CEO says its Covid jab may have helped UK avoid serious illness amid European surge – business live | Business

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca. Photograph: Brenda Goh/Reuters

The chief executive of AstraZeneca has said it was possible that the current spike in coronavirus in Europe was linked to governments’ decision not to use the company’s Covid-19 vaccine in older people.

After a German newspaper report that turned out to be false, there was doubt over the effectiveness of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in older people, and several European governments initially chose not to use it in those over 60 or over 65.

Germany, for example, then overturned its earlier verdict and approved the vaccine for the over 65s in March after further studies showed it was safe and effective. Public confidence in the jab was also eroded when a rare link with blood clots emerged.

Public confidence in the jab was eroded, also when a rare link with blood clots emerged.

Pascal Soriot, the AstraZeneca CEO, insisted he had no regrets on the vaccine as the company unveils a £1bn research and development (R&D) centre in Cambridge, the biggest science lab in the UK and the largest investment AstraZeneca has ever made.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Soriot explained that Covid-19 vaccines did two things: stimulate an antibody response, and a T-cell response.

“The T-cell response takes a little longer to come in, but it’s actually more durable, it last longer, and the body remembers that longer,” he said.

“Antibodies decline over time….What remains, and is very important, is this T-cell response.

You may be infected but then they come to the rescue and you don’t get hospitalised.”

Soriot added that this might explain why the UK has seen relatively fewer hospitalisations in the current wave of Covid-19:

“In the UK, there was a big pickup in infections but not so many hospitalisations relative to Europe.

In the UK, this vaccine was used to vaccinate older people, whereas in Europe initially people thought the vaccine doesn’t work in older people.

[Explainer: AstraZeneca’s vaccine, developed at Oxford University, used a modified adenovirus with the Covid-19 spike protein to induce an immune response.

Other vaccines, such as Pfizer’s, use mRNA technology with the genetic instructions for the vaccinated person’s own cells to produce the vaccine antigens].

Q: So could there be a link between the rise in cases and hospitalisations in Europe, and the fact that AstraZeneca’s vaccine wasn’t used in older people there?

Soriot replies:

“T-cells do matter and in particular it relates to the durability of the response especially in older people and this vaccine has been shown to stimulate T-cells to a higher degree in older people.

We haven’t seen many hospitalisations in the UK, a lot of infections, for sure. But what matters is: are you severely ill or not? Are you hospitalised or not?

Q: And that could be because the AstraZeneca vaccine was used among older people in the UK?

Soriot says more data is needed to know the answer:

“It could be, but there’s no proof of anything. We need more data to analyse this and get the answer.”

BBC Radio 4 Today

“What matters is, are you severely ill or not? And we haven’t seen so many of these hospitalisations”

AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot raises the possibility the AZ vaccine may eventually be seen as more effective than those selected for the UK boostershttps://t.co/qHGb9xqhz0 pic.twitter.com/bFdF59yuRS

November 23, 2021

Prince Charles will formally open AstraZeneca’s R&D facility on Tuesday, as the company aims to speed up its development of new pharmaceutical products.

It will house more than 2,200 research scientists, and is one of AZ’s three major R&D centres along with one in the US and one in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, Britain’s biggest pharmaceutical firm, invests more than $7bn in R&D globally each year, a large part of which takes place in the UK.

BBC Radio 4 Today

“When I found this land, I became so excited because of the location”

AstraZeneca boss, Pascal Soriot, tells @JustinOnWeb that Cambridge’s ‘ecosystem’ of different scientific research companies has become comparable to Stanfordhttps://t.co/ZfOUkArFbu #R4Today pic.twitter.com/rQhnTfEleK

November 23, 2021

AstraZeneca was one of the few vaccine makers to sell its jab at cost price, but is now signing commercial contracts for next year, in a shift away from its not-for-profit pricing.

Oxford professors Sir Andrew Pollard and Brian Angus have today called on governments with vaccine doses to spare to make every effort to ensure they urgently reach people who are undecided and unvaccinated:

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