NIH Assertion Raises Questions About AstraZeneca’s Vaccine Information : NPR

A U.S. trial of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine might have used outdated info. An announcement by the Nationwide Institutes of Well being says an incomplete view of efficacy information might have been offered.


All through this present day, we’re reporting on a shock a couple of new COVID vaccine. Yesterday, AstraZeneca reported optimistic outcomes for hundreds of people that had obtained its vaccine. Then early this morning, we realized {that a} authorities affiliated oversight board has expressed concern. The board questions the way in which the corporate is describing its take a look at outcomes. That is an evolving story. And NPR science correspondent Joe Palca has been speaking with us all through the morning. Joe, welcome again.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Thanks, glad to be right here.

INSKEEP: So remind us, what initially have been we advised concerning the AstraZeneca vaccine and its checks right here in the US?

PALCA: Proper. Nicely, these are the outcomes from a examine of 30,000 or 32,000 folks, a few of whom acquired the vaccine, a few of whom acquired the placebo. And there is a committee that oversees the outcomes of the examine referred to as the DSMB. We love acronyms right here in Washington. Or a minimum of…

INSKEEP: Apparently.

PALCA: Yeah. So DSMB watches the examine. And, in actual fact, they’re the one ones from the get-go who know who acquired what as a result of all people else is what they name blinded. They do not get advised. However the DSMB…

INSKEEP: Oh, you do not get advised if it is a placebo or which vaccine or something?

PALCA: That is proper. You do not wish to affect the outcomes come what may by understanding what you are getting or by the researcher understanding. So DSMB is the one one which is aware of. They seemed on the information. And so they have sure guidelines for stopping when the efficacy reaches a sure measurement. And so they mentioned, sure, we see an indication of efficacy right here. You might cease. And so they handed the information – or they handed the important thing to the information to the corporate. The corporate seemed on the information and mentioned, whoa, that is good. We’ve a 79% efficacy that our vaccine is defending folks from COVID.

The difficulty is that the DSMB mentioned, whoa, maintain on a second. That is not what we noticed. And so they put out an announcement, or a minimum of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Illness put out an announcement quoting the DSMB as saying, we specific concern that AstraZeneca might have included outdated info from that trial, which can have offered an incomplete view of the efficacy information. And we urge the corporate to work with the DSMB – that is us – to assessment the efficacy information and make sure the most correct, up-to-date efficacy information might be made public as rapidly as potential. So…

INSKEEP: These are such lengthy sentences that I really feel we have to translate somewhat bit right here. So we have been advised yesterday 79% efficacy, which is fairly good for a vaccine. In order that sounds good. However then there’s this concern expressed, suggesting that possibly if you happen to take a look at the take a look at outcomes a unique manner, you do not see 79%.

PALCA: Precisely.

INSKEEP: What’s AstraZeneca saying in response to that?

PALCA: Nicely, that is precisely proper. So that they’re – so the DSMB is saying, take a look at all the information. Take a look at the latest information. And the corporate simply put out a launch that mentioned the numbers revealed yesterday have been primarily based on a prespecified interim evaluation with an information cutoff of February 17. So that they’re trying again at information that was collected as of February 17. And the DSMB appears to be saying that between then and now, now we have extra information, which makes your efficacy numbers not look nearly as good. That appears to be what’s occurring right here. And…

INSKEEP: I believe we will interpret that as properly. That will imply, does it not, that a number of extra folks on this examine acquired sick, acquired COVID, and so the 79% price did not fairly maintain up?

PALCA: Proper. They acquired sick. And so they acquired sick within the vaccine arm of the examine, not the placebo arm of the examine. That is why the numbers do not look nearly as good.

INSKEEP: OK. So we nonetheless suppose this can be a fairly good vaccine, however possibly not 79%. What are the implications for truly getting this authorised in the US?

PALCA: Precisely. It is nonetheless a great vaccine. It could be not fairly nearly as good. And that is only a unusual flip. And it will be as much as the FDA to research the information themselves and are available up – or itself – and give you a call about granting an emergency use authorization. Which will occur in a month or so.

INSKEEP: I suppose which means we’ll be coming again to you once more for extra updates. Joe, thanks.

PALCA: (Laughter) Yep. You wager.

INSKEEP: NPR’s Joe Palca.

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