COVID-19 Evidence Alerts
from McMaster PLUSTM

Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)

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Primary Prevention Madhi SA, Baillie V, Cutland CL, et al. Efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 Covid-19 Vaccine against the B.1.351 Variant. N Engl J Med. 2021 Mar 16. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2102214.
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Assessment of the safety and efficacy of vaccines against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in different populations is essential, as is investigation of the efficacy of the vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, including the B.1.351 (501Y.V2) variant first identified in South Africa.

METHODS: We conducted a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial to assess the safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222) in people not infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in South Africa. Participants 18 to less than 65 years of age were assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive two doses of vaccine containing 5×1010 viral particles or placebo (0.9% sodium chloride solution) 21 to 35 days apart. Serum samples obtained from 25 participants after the second dose were tested by pseudovirus and live-virus neutralization assays against the original D614G virus and the B.1.351 variant. The primary end points were safety and efficacy of the vaccine against laboratory-confirmed symptomatic coronavirus 2019 illness (Covid-19) more than 14 days after the second dose.

RESULTS: Between June 24 and November 9, 2020, we enrolled 2026 HIV-negative adults (median age, 30 years); 1010 and 1011 participants received at least one dose of placebo or vaccine, respectively. Both the pseudovirus and the live-virus neutralization assays showed greater resistance to the B.1.351 variant in serum samples obtained from vaccine recipients than in samples from placebo recipients. In the primary end-point analysis, mild-to-moderate Covid-19 developed in 23 of 717 placebo recipients (3.2%) and in 19 of 750 vaccine recipients (2.5%), for an efficacy of 21.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], -49.9 to 59.8). Among the 42 participants with Covid-19, 39 cases (92.9%) were caused by the B.1.351 variant; vaccine efficacy against this variant, analyzed as a secondary end point, was 10.4% (95% CI, -76.8 to 54.8). The incidence of serious adverse events was balanced between the vaccine and placebo groups.

CONCLUSIONS: A two-dose regimen of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine did not show protection against mild-to-moderate Covid-19 due to the B.1.351 variant. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04444674; Pan African Clinical Trials Registry number, PACTR202006922165132).

Ratings
Discipline / Specialty Area Score
Public Health
Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
Internal Medicine
Infectious Disease
Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)
General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)
Emergency Medicine
Comments from MORE raters

General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US) rater

Lack of efficacy in South Africa is big news, especially in the identified variant.

Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists rater

It is underpowered for severe illness (hospitalization/death), and given the reported 75% efficacy overall for symptomatic covid-19, it is not clear that this is definitive evidence against a beneficial effect.

Internal Medicine rater

In this study, the authors found that the AstraZeneca vaccine did not seem to a confer benefit in prevention of mild to moderate COVID-19 in the presence of the new South Africa COVID-19 variant. This is very important information as variants are known to quickly replace prior virus populations; although mild to moderate COVID is not likely to be fatal, if it can be spread, this would impact herd immunity.