One of the few pieces of good news last year was the announcement of not one, but several Covid-19 vaccines, and every country’s willingness to immunise at a large scale. This would be positive, as millions of people have already been vaccinated around the world, but there is one issue. Some vaccines may not work.
Germany has recently stated that it is not going to be using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 65, citing a lack of evidence that it is useful at all. This does not mean that it is harmful, or that it doesn’t work for other age groups. This just means that the AstraZeneca team was unable to find enough people over 65 to test its vaccine on during the trial stages.
What does this mean for the company? Well, it’s currently hard to say. Germany does have a lot of clout in the EU sphere and this may result in other countries following suit and dropping this vaccine. On the other hand, vaccines are extremely hard to come by, as many countries are well behind their vaccination goals. This may mean that while Germany isn’t interested, another country would gladly snap up the vaccines. If countries around the world drop the AstraZeneca vaccine in the face of more efficacious vaccines that work on all age groups, the company could stand to lose upwards of $1.2bn in revenue, which is about 4% of its total global revenue, a staggering loss.
However, this absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The reason that there are insufficient data is due to the way that AstraZeneca did its testing. It tested on those below 65 first, as they were at lower risk from negative side effects (as well as being unable to find a sufficient body of infected people 65 and older). However, as the vaccine continues to infect more and more people, AstraZeneca will probably be able to eventually find enough seniors to test its vaccine properly on. At that point, countries the world over can make a more informed decision on this somewhat prematurely released vaccine.