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Still Questions

Researchers from AstraZeneca and Oxford University have published results from their SARS-CoV-2 clinical trial, but BuzzFeed News reports that scientists critical of their earlier results announcement still have questions.

In November, AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced that their candidate vaccine could have up to 90 percent efficacy when given as a half-dose followed a month later by a full vaccine dose, while a two full-dose regimen had an efficacy of 62 percent. Overall, they said their findings suggest an average efficacy of 70 percent.

However, revelations that the half-dose followed by a full-dose regimen was the result of an error and was primarily given to people under the age of 55 raised concerns about the trial, as did an apparent pooling of data from different arms of the study, BuzzFeed News writes.

As Nature News notes, the AstraZeneca and Oxford University team is the first of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine makers to publish their clinical trial data. In the Lancet, the researchers provide efficacy results from their trials in the UK and Brazil and safety results from the trials in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa.

"The efficacy and the safety are fine," the University of Leeds' Stephen Griffin tells Nature News. "Overall, what you can say is that it does work."

BuzzFeed News, however, notes that the paper doesn't clear up all the confusion. "In terms of policy making, the 70 percent number remains hard to interpret," University of Florida's Natalie Dean tells it.