What is the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine

Date posted: Monday, March 29, 2021

The Ministry of Health of Ethiopia launched COVID-19 vaccine introduction in a high-level national event held at Eka Kotebe COVID-19 Hospital where frontline health workers were vaccinated to mark the beginning of the vaccination campaign. Present at the event were the Guest of Honor Excellency Dr Getahun Mekuria, Minister of Education, Excellency Dr Dereje Duguma, State Minister of Health, Dr Boureima Hama Sambo, Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Ethiopia, Athlete Commander Derartu Tulu, Kesis Tagay Tadele, Secretary General of Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, representatives from the UN, CDC, non-governmental organizations and health workers.

Education Minister Excellency Dr Getahun Mekuria appreciated the contribution of the global community, WHO and others for their role in providing vaccines to Ethiopia through COVAX initiative. He further expressed his appreciation to the Ethiopian health professionals for their service in fighting the pandemic over the last one year, and reiterated the notable investment that government, health institutes and universities have made towards making the country self-sufficient in COVID testing and treatment. The Minister further underscored, “With the introduction of vaccines, we are now at a landmark stage in the response to COVID-19, but vaccines will be of sideline use if face masks, keeping distance and hand hygiene are not maintained,” expressing his concern that the continued reluctance in implementing those precautions would be a threat to the country′s health system, and economic and social fabrics.


Clinical Pharmacist Ellie Morton prepares to administer the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine at the community vaccination centre at Kingston University’s Penrhyn Road campus on March 12, 2021IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES

Results from a long-awaited US trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine confirm that the shot is both safe and highly effective.

The trial found it stopped people from falling seriously ill with Covid-19, and identified no safety issues regarding blood clots among the 32,000 volunteers who took part.

Some EU countries recently paused rollout of the vaccine amid concerns about a possible link.

What is the advice about blood clots?

Regulators have carried out a review into recent reports that a very small number of recently immunised people had suffered an extremely rare form of blood clot - cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT) - in the brain.

In the UK, five cases of CSVT - one of them fatal - were recorded among 11 million people who received the vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) received an additional 13 reports of CSVT. It can occur naturally and no link to the vaccine has been established.


Both the UK regulator and the EMA concluded that the vaccine is safe and there is no evidence that the vaccine causes clots.

As a precaution, regulators will continue to monitor the situation and advise symptoms, such as unusual bruising or persistent headache after vaccination, should prompt a medical check.

Covid infection can be serious and also make clots more likely.

How does this vaccine work?

It is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus - although it can’t cause illness.

Once injected, it teaches the body’s immune system how to fight the real virus, should it need to.

Unlike Pfizer’s jab - which has to be kept at an extremely cold temperature (-70C) - the Oxford vaccine can be stored in a normal fridge. This makes it much easier to distribute.

Graphic: How does the Oxford vaccine work

Is the Oxford vaccine as good as the Pfizer?

Large trials showed the Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective, while the figure for the Oxford one was 62%.

But directly comparing results is difficult because there are differences in the way the trials were carried out.

No-one who received the Oxford vaccine was hospitalised or became seriously ill due to Covid.

A recent study found a single dose of the Oxford vaccine offered 76% protection for three months, and this went up to 82% after the second dose.

Does it work in older people?

Some European countries initially offered the vaccine only to 18-64 year-olds because they said there was limited data on how well it protects the over-65s.

Both Germany and France then reversed this stance, and recommended the vaccine for over-65s.


The EMA approved the vaccine in January for use in all age groups, including older adults.

How long do vaccines protect against Covid?

It is not yet known how long protection lasts with any of the coronavirus vaccines.

A study found that unvaccinated people who have had Covid, develop protection for at least six months. Vaccines are likely to provide stronger protection than this.

It may be that people need annual vaccinations, as happens with the flu jab.

Which vaccine will I get?

You will not be given a choice about which vaccine you get.

In the UK, recommendations on which groups get the vaccine are made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunology.

Timetable showing how vulnerable groups will receive the vaccine. Updated 26 Feb.

Does the vaccine protect against new variants?

Experts are studying all of the current coronavirus vaccines to check how well they work against new, mutated variants of the virus that are emerging.

Government’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van Tam, says there is "plenty of evidence" the vaccines appear to be effective against the Kent variant that is dominant in the UK.

There is less evidence about protection for other ones, such as the Brazil and the South Africa variants.

A study based on about 2,000 people with the vaccine, suggests the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine offers limited protection against mild and moderate disease caused by the South Africa variant.

South Africa has paused roll-out while it investigates further.

There is no evidence to suggest it would not be effective at preventing more severe cases that need hospital treatment.

UK scientists are working on new versions of the vaccine, to keep up with a virus that will inevitably keep mutating.


Source taken from Reliefweb.int and the BBC World News

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