Amid bemusement from scientists at the deluge of often undeserved criticism, the Guardian pieces together the story behind the vaccine’s successes and failures.
n January 2020, when most of the world slept soundly in ignorance of the pandemic coming its way, a group of scientists at Oxford University got to work on a vaccine to save the planet. They wanted it to be highly effective, cheap, and easy to use in even the poorest countries.
Prof Sarah Gilbert, Prof Andrew Pollard and others pulled it off. With speed crucial, they designed it and launched into trials before bringing in a business partner. The giant Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca would manufacture it, license it around the world – and not make a profit until the pandemic was over.
It was an inspired, idealistic and philanthropic crusade – yet they have spent the last year being attacked from all sides.
As politicians, regulators, the public and the press have all weighed in, it is almost as if the vaccine has gone from hero to zero.
So much has gone wrong, and the well-intentioned folk at Oxford and AstraZeneca have taken so many blows, that it is hardly surprising that they wonder whether they have been the victims of a deliberate disinformation campaign.
It seems they have. There is clear evidence that the Oxford vaccine, and other jabs, have been targeted by Russians peddling disinformation in order to promote their own version, Sputnik V.
At the university and the company, whose partnership has held firm under the extraordinary strain, there is bemusement at the disasters and deluge of criticism. “Everyone is ascribing this dark motive to everything we do,” said one company insider.
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford and the government’s life sciences adviser, who has been involved with the vaccine from the beginning, says they have been singled out.
“Of course the vaccine is not perfect … We were very clear that we understand that there are complications from the vaccine, as I think you’ll find there are with all the vaccines to be honest. But ours has had the bloody spotlight, and people just won’t let go.
“There’s a long history of trouble with this vaccine. And it’s hard to pin it on any one thing, and I think it would be fair to say maybe we haven’t handled the negative news as well as we might have. But we’re kind of new at this game [and] there was nothing deceitful about what we did. We just perhaps didn’t get in front of the dialogue.”
There has been no single enemy with Oxford/AstraZeneca in its sights. Instead, it is a story of cultural and political differences, of misunderstandings and mistakes. It is a very human story, at heart, featuring people behaving badly, or with naked self-interest, in the midst of a terrifying pandemic….
When covid-19 struck Europe in March 2020, hospitals were plunged into a health crisis that was still badly understood. “Doctors really didn’t have a clue how to manage these patients,” says Laure Wynants, an [...]
Pfizer found to be 88 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic disease from delta variant. Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca-Oxford's COVID-19 vaccines are nearly as effective against the highly transmissible delta coronavirus variant [...]
South African pharmaceutical company Aspen said Monday it was releasing its first batch of African-produced COVID-19 vaccines under a licensing deal with the US giant Johnson & Johnson. The Durban-based company said the first [...]
Since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world, scientists have clamored to develop vaccines to prevent the spread and medicines that will cure the sick. But a virus’ main goal is to replicate and [...]
The highly transmissible delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19, is now present in 124 countries and will become the dominant strain globally in the coming months as it is outcompeting [...]
Scientists have backed proposals for Covid boosters in the autumn after blood tests on hundreds of people revealed that protective antibodies can wane substantially within weeks of second vaccine shots being given. Falls in [...]
Researchers in the United States have conducted a study showing that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna generate a coordinated adaptive immune response that is capable of eliciting recall [...]
CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, played an important role in evaluating heat-tolerant COVID-19 vaccine formulations developed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and biotech start-up Mynvax—against all current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Published [...]
Podcast – Nanovisaging 2040 How Synergies between Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine, and AI might Benefit Humanity
Frank Boehm (NanoApps Medical Inc. Founder) in discussion with Nana Kay in a Wealth Secrets podcast. EP 19. Nanovisaging 2040. From Nana Kay: Nanovisaging 2040: How Synergies between Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine, and AI might Benefit [...]
Canada, like several other countries, has been mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines for weeks amid safety concerns over the AstraZeneca shot. On Monday, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against that approach, calling [...]
Scientists have harnessed CRISPR gene-editing technology to block the replication of the novel coronavirus in human cells — an approach that could one day serve as a new treatment for COVID-19. However, the study was performed [...]
A recent study by scientists from Japanese universities has shown that the shape of cell-derived nanoparticles, known as "extracellular vesicles" (EVs), in body fluids could be a biomarker for identifying types of cancer. In [...]
An important lesson for vaccine design Australian scientists researching how our immune system responds to COVID-19 have revealed that those infected by early variants in 2020 produced sustained antibodies, however, these antibodies are not [...]
1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 185 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4 million. More than 3.29 [...]
The World Health Organization (WHO) has added another COVID strain to its list of coronavirus variants to keep an eye on: the COVID-19 Lambda variant. This particular variant has now spread to more than two dozen [...]