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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

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

"It's gonna get worse before it gets better": President Biden expects 100,000 Americans to die from COVID-19 during his first six weeks in office.

The big picture: Biden said he's putting America on a wartime footing against the virus, signing 10 executive orders today alone.

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as coronavirus cases surge

Hong Kong health workers patrol a street where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. Photo: Anthony Kwan via Getty Images

Hong Kong will place tens of thousands of residents on lockdown to curtail outbreaks in neighborhoods with aging, subdivided apartments, the government announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It’s the first time Hong Kong has imposed a lockdown since the pandemic began. The restrictions will begin Saturday and last for at least two weeks.

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