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September 30, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – AZ vaccine reports 74% efficacy in large trial – Merck expects molnupiravir to be effective against viral variants

By Chris Lo

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, has achieved efficacy of 74% at preventing symptomatic disease in a large trial that included volunteers from the US, Chile and Peru. The figure is lower than the 79% interim efficacy presented by the company earlier this year, reported Reuters. The vaccine demonstrated a higher efficacy of 83.5% in those aged 65 and older. The ongoing trial is assessing the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of two doses of Vaxzevria compared with placebo in preventing severe cases of Covid-19.

Merck & Co has said its oral Covid-19 antiviral drug candidate molnupiravir is expected to be effective against the known variants of the novel coronavirus including the Delta strain. The drug targets the polymerase enzyme used by the virus to replicate itself. Merck said molnupiravir, which the company is developing alongside Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is most effective when administered in the early stages of infection.

Slovenia has temporarily suspended inoculating people with Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Covid-19 vaccines following the death of a 20-year-old woman. An investigation is currently underway to determine if there is a link between the inoculation and the death of the young woman, who reportedly presented with blood clots and bleeding in the brain. This is the second serious incident in Slovenia related to the J&J vaccine, according to the Slovenian Press Agency. Around 120,000 people in Slovenia have received J&J jabs.

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