Dear Colleagues and Students,
Today is the day we – and people all over the globe – have been waiting for. The day when we would learn the results of the phase III trial of the Oxford Vaccine, ChadOx (ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019).
The results to date suggest a composite efficacy rate of 70%: 90% for people who receive two doses of the vaccine; a half dose followed by a full dose. For people who receive two full doses of the vaccine the efficacy rate is 60%. None of those who received the vaccine became seriously ill or required hospitalization. Vast reams of safety data have been gathered which attest to the safety of the vaccine.
This is wonderful news as the vaccine, developed jointly with AstraZeneca, will be available at low cost all over the world. It is the result of a global effort with Oxford at the hub. Our colleagues in Thailand, Kenya and Vietnam working on infectious disease have contributed to the research that made this possible. Partners in Brazil and South Africa have been conducting trials of the vaccine which have been integral to this result. Generous foundations and funding agencies in the UK, Europe and the US, along with private individuals, have invested in this research, and partners like the Serum Institute of India will be manufacturing the vaccine at scale for the developing world. Today’s result also demonstrates what can be achieved in the UK when universities, the Government and the private sector are aligned and working together towards a common goal.
Above all, I would like, on behalf of all of us, to express my appreciation and admiration of the work of Professors Andrew Pollard, Adrian Hill and Sarah Gilbert and the 280 members of their teams who have been working seven days a week since January to get us to this point.
On March 23rd, eight months ago today, I wrote to you announcing that we were effectively shutting down the university except for essential research. It is truly extraordinary what has been achieved in this time. Clearly, putting our brainpower in service to society is what we do best.
I know that this has been a very difficult eight months for many of us, students and staff alike. While today’s news shows a bright light at the end of the tunnel, we still have some difficult times ahead. It is not yet time to relax, to travel and socialize or to mourn properly those we have lost. Colleagues across the collegiate university are working hard to ensure that we will be able to offer two lateral flow tests to all students in 8th week so that you can safely travel home for Christmas confident that you will not be endangering the health of your family and friends.
Today’s news brings closer the day when people all over the world will have access to a safe, effective and affordable vaccine against COVID-19. I hope that, like me, you feel an enormous sense of pride in being part of the university that has made this possible.