Initially, partial trial results of its vaccine suggested the jab’s overall efficacy was 62 per cent.
While those results are impressive – and well above the vaccine registration level of 50 per cent – they’re much lower than the 95 per cent efficacy reported by Pfizer.
Later in November, AstraZeneca announced its vaccine had reached 90 per cent efficacy after a much smaller trial involving fewer than 3000 participants delivered stronger results when they were given a half dose and then a full dose by mistake, rather than two full doses.
Concerns were raised again when AstraZeneca announced its vaccine’s overall efficacy was 70 per cent after combining the data from the two different dosing regimes – something ABC coronavirus broadcaster Dr Norman Swan slammed as “very unacceptable”.
Adding to this sense of unease is the fact AstraZeneca has not yet released its latest data to be peer reviewed, nor has it named a date for its release.
“We think we have figured out the winning formula and how to get efficacy that, after two doses, is up there with everybody else,” Mr Soriot told The Sunday Times.
“I can’t tell you more because we will publish at some point.”
But for many scientists, “some point” is not a satisfactory timeline.
“Scientists are always a bit sceptical,” Dr Bryant said.
“We have a mantra: ‘We’d love to see the data’.”
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr Hunt dismissed concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine and the lack of evidence backing Mr Soriot’s claims.
“Our regulators are increasingly confident that the choices that we’ve made are likely to be backed up by regulatory approval,” Mr Hunt said.
“They’re the choices of the medical expert panel, then backed and put into action by the government.”
At this stage, Australia will have access to three vaccines that are all “on track to being highly available” and effective, Mr Hunt said.
It’s something Dr Bryant said Australians should be thankful for.
“We’re in such a good position,” she said.
“There’s lots of cause for hope in 2021, but it’s still a long road ahead of us.
“It’s not a magic bullet.
“It takes a while for everyone to have their two doses, so it’s going to take a bit of time. Be safe, wear your mask, socially distance. We’re not quite out of the woods yet, but things are looking great.”