Oxford vaccine is “strong and secure” candidate against Covid-19, says university official


Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) rector Soraya Smaili reaffirmed her belief in the prospective vaccine developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with drugmaker AstraZeneca as a viable solution to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms. Smaili, who oversees the vaccine’s trials in Brazil at Unifesp, believes the prospective vaccine is both safe for mass distribution and capable of inducing the desired immunity on individuals.

“We have promising results. We have a prospective vaccine that will probably be very secure, besides being a strong candidate as an effective vaccine,” Ms. Smaili said, in an interview with TV news channel GloboNews.

Since its early trials, the vaccine has not shown any adverse health effects on volunteers, with individuals reporting at most some sort of soreness in the region the vaccine was administered, explains Ms. Smaili.

The ‘Oxford vaccine,’ as it is popularly called, is currently in phase three of trials, which is the final round of testing including mass trials to verify the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Worldwide, the prospective vaccine is being tested on 50,000 volunteers, with Brazil holding trials on 5,000 health workers, 2,000 of them at Unifesp in São Paulo.

Brazil in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine

On June 27, the Brazilian government announced a partnership with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for the purchase of the vaccine’s production technology to be produced in scale in Brazil. In total, BRL 695 million (USD 130.513 million) will be invested for the production of 100 million doses of the vaccine in Brazil, by way of the Bio-Manguinhos Vaccine Technology Institute — a segment of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) for biological research — located in Rio de Janeiro.

On Saturday, August 1, Fiocruz President Nísia Trindade de Lima, in an interview with newscast RJ1, said the foundation expects to start producing the vaccine in December, while also rating the prospective vaccine’s profile as 9.5 out of 10.

On July 15, Ms. Smaili projected the Oxford vaccine will be publicly available around June 2021, as covered by The Brazilian Report, due to rigorous testing protocols.

Yet, due to the recent encouraging results, Ms. Lima says the vaccine could gain regulatory approval as early as December to be first administered on health workers. Fiocruz is already preparing its facilities to produce the prospective vaccine with expectations for an initial production batch of 30.4 million units.

If early assessments turn out to be true, the federal government’s initial gamble to invest BRL 695 million will prove to be a bargain, as Brazil will be one of the first countries to have access to the world’s most coveted vaccine. So far, the results are encouraging for all parties involved. 

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