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Virginia health leaders hopeful for AstraZeneca vaccine

Posted at 12:23 AM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 06:02:57-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- After months of national clinical trials involving 30,000 adults, AstraZeneca is now reporting that its COVID 19 vaccine is providing strong protection against the virus for all adults.

Results show the vaccine is 79% effective against symptomatic cases of COVID 19 and 100% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations.

The results of the trial appear to be promising, says Virginia's Vaccine Czar, Dr. Danny Avula.

"If the efficacy looks as good as the initial data shows, then it could mean we're three to four weeks away from us adding a fourth vaccine to the market," Avula said. "I look at April and May as the big rush for vaccines as we open up to the general public and get as close as we can to that 75% herd immunity."

The study also found no serious side effects, including no increased risk of blood clots, which caused some countries to briefly suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations last week.

VCU epidemiologist, Dr. Gonzala Bearman, said recent studies have debunked theories on AstraZeneca 's vaccine causing blood clots.

"The European Union Medical Authorities did an emergency review of those cases of the blood clotting and found there was no association between the vaccine and blood clotting, which is encouraging," Bearman said.

Wes Fleming developed COVID 19 just a week after taking part in Richmond's AstraZeneca trial late last year.

He assumed he had received the placebo vaccine. It wasn't until this past week that Fleming learned that he had received the real vaccine.

With several underlying health problems, he was grateful that his illness was brief and mild.

"I wasn't that worried because I figured I had lucked out and got a mild case," Fleming said. "It turns out that I probably got a mild case because I received the vaccine, and I can only imagine how much worse it could have been had I not received the vaccine."

AstraZeneca plans to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration. After a review of all the evidence, a decision will most likely be made around mid-April.

The company says it could deliver 30 million doses immediately and an additional 20 million doses within the first month.

Roughly 24% of Virginians have received at least one dose of a COVID 19 vaccine. Vaccine experts, including Avula predict there should be enough vaccines for all adults by the end of May.