NEW ORLEANS — Later this month, another vaccine maker is expected to send its findings to the FDA.
AstraZeneca tested its COVID vaccine on 30,000 people, some in Louisiana.
And early signs are that it may help flatten the curve of infection.
We all know how limited the coronavirus vaccine is with just Pfizer's and Moderna's on the market. And there is hope supplies will increase as two other pharmaceutical company vaccines are expected to get emergency use approval. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine soon, and the AstraZeneca vaccine possibly in March. Now there is some more promising news about that AstraZeneca version.
“Initial analyses seem to indicate that there's a two-thirds reduction in positive nasal swabs in people who have been vaccinated,” said Dr. Lisa Morici, a Tulane microbiologist and immunologist.
So what does this mean? Well so far we have learned that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing you from getting very sick with complications if you catch the virus, but we have not known if they protect you from catching the virus and spreading it to others. Now these preliminary data suggest reduced transmission of spreading the virus from one person to another.
“Which means if you don't have virus in your upper respiratory tract, or you nasal cavity, you can't transmit the virus to someone else. So that would be huge.”
That's especially important since many people have no symptoms and don't know they're spreading it.
We still don't know if the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, out now, reduce spread, but doctors are hopeful they will.
“We've very hopeful with the high efficacy rates that we're seeing for the vaccines, that they are going to help reduce transmissions. So this initial analysis is very encouraging,” said Dr. Morici.
So while the scientific community waits for the final AstraZeneca data so they can scrutinize it, the rest of us have to wait our turn for that protective shot in the arm.
The federal government plans to buy 300 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, but there is no word on when, and how much of it will be available after the vaccine is approved.