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Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Peer-reviewed research published Tuesday confirms that the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is moderately effective at preventing infection, and it appears to keep people out of the hospital.

Why it matters: Some questions remain about AstraZeneca's vaccine, but the findings released in The Lancet medical journal help validate that the product works and is safe.

The big picture: When AstraZeneca's vaccine was administered in two standard doses, it was about 62% effective in preventing symptomatic infections.

  • That's not as high as the roughly 95% efficacy reported by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but AstraZeneca's has some other advantages over those two, including easier distribution.
  • No one who had received both doses of the vaccine in AstraZeneca's trials developed a severe infection or had to be hospitalized.

The big question: The company accidentally gave some patients a modified dosing regimen — a half dose, followed by a full standard dose. In those patients, the vaccine registered 90% efficacy.

  • Experts have puzzled over those results since AstraZeneca's initial release, and the research published Tuesday doesn't have many answers.
  • The group that got the half-dose didn't include anyone older than 55 — the people most at risk for severe infection. We still don't know whether that skewed the results or AstraZeneca accidentally hit on a better dosage.

The lower initial dose also appeared to be much more effective in preventing asymptomatic spread — a critically important part of stopping the virus from spreading.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

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