AstraZeneca vaccine guards against severe COVID-19 illness.

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AstraZeneca vaccine guards against severe COVID-19 illness

New data show that the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca not only protects people from serious illness and death, but also slows the transmission of the virus. The Oxford researchers say their findings offer the first evidence that any COVID-19 vaccine can reduce transmission of the virus, The New York Times reported.

Researchers measured the impact on transmission by swabbing participants every week to spot signs of the virus. They found a 67 percent reduction in positive swabs among those who got the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The results have not been peer-reviewed but are awaiting publication in The Lancet, the university said in a statement. In addition to reduced transmission, the researchers also found that a single dose of the vaccine was 76 percent effective at preventing COVID-19.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is waiting on data from a clinical trial on the AstraZeneca vaccine that enrolled about 30,000 participants, mostly Americans. Results from that study are expected later this month. The study is expected to arm AstraZeneca with enough safety data to seek emergency use authorization by early March. The United States has agreed to buy 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but neither the company nor the federal government has said when and in what quantities those doses will be available once the vaccine is approved, The Times reported.

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